One plane running behind schedule can put a kink in passenger and airport travel times. At Heathrow Airport in London, the busiest international hub in the world with 65 million annual travelers, the delay from that one plane is felt around the flying world. 

“With our runways running up to 98 percent of capacity, there is no room for error,” said Ruben Sicking, director of airside operations, in a video testimonial.

Heathrow, run by parent venture Heathrow Limited, formerly the British Airport Authority, which operates four other airports, wanted an encompassing, real-time process engine with customer experience in mind for passengers as well as the airport’s 320 businesses with 75,000 employees. Heathrow worked with Pegasystems to create Airport Collaborative Decision Making, a solution based off Pegasystems’ BPM platform.

Aircraft scheduling and turnaround are handled as a “case” in the BPM, with direct collaboration and insight dotted along differing system users and integrated info. So, when an airplane registers a malfunction on the runway and awaits mechanical inspection, the delay shows up in a real-time repository shared by the airport, airlines, ground transportation and air traffic control. Here, schedules can be shuffled and overall airport time frame isn’t pushed back with every delay, which run the gamut from automated engine reports to international terror alerts. Its own “butterfly effect,” the rescheduling and monitoring capabilities from the BPM solution cut back on idle planes and crews, fuel costs and grumpy, stationary passengers.

The first of the multi-stage project was ready in nine weeks, with Heathrow and EUROCONTROL, the European air safety organization, providing IT architects, business analysts and project managers, and Pegasystems relying on its management frameworks and Direct Capture of Objectives application along the way. Pegasystems also trained airport junior staff on the software. Among its first returns was a significant bump in on-time arrivals and departures, up 15 percent to 83 percent. Heathrow also estimates millions of dollars in saved fuel costs.

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