SafeClouds presented in the EU-US workshop

Last January, a team of European and American entities organised a workshop on transatlantic research with the support of the European Commission. The event was hosted by the FAA in their facilities at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City. Those mostly in attendance were US and European companies interested in how the different research threads could be boosted through international cooperation.

Among the subjects discussed during the three day event, data analytics was mentioned several times as a interesting area with applicability to different areas in industrial research. Particularly, safety data analytics was covered in three presentations. First, the FAA presented their +10-year old programme ASIAS, which collects data from more than 40 carriers and has been leading the developments in this field for more than a decade. Second, EASA presented the Data4Safety programme, recently launched and in a proof-of-concept stage. Lastly, Innaxis presented the research programme SafeClouds.eu, including the latest technological developments and how they could complement the existing initiatives by providing and exploring new research avenues.

Junior Researcher in Software modelling

Innaxis is currently seeking a software-modelling researcher (entry to junior level) to join its research team in Madrid, Spain. We look for a talented and highly motivated individual who wants to pursue a research career in the field of socio-technological systems modelling and simulation. Any individual with a great dose of imagination and problem-solving skills, along with algorithmic mind and passion are encouraged to apply.

As a software modeller, you will be developing algorithms to simulate the intricacies of socio-technological systems, such as the air transportation system and future concepts of European urban mobility. You will be applying several modelling techniques from agent based modelling, to event-driven simulation and stochastic modelling. You will also work with our Data Science team for hybrid approaches, eg. data-driven simulation tools and prescriptive analytics.

About

Innaxis is a private independent, non-profit, research institute focused on data science and its applications; most notably in aviation, air traffic management, and mobility. As an independent entity, Innaxis decides its own research agenda and has a decade of experience in European research programmes with more than 30 successfully executed research projects.

The Innaxis team consists of an interdisciplinary group of scientists, developers, engineers and programme managers. We work together with an extensive network of external partners and collaborators in Europe, including private companies, universities, public entities and other research institutes.

Skills

The ideal candidate complies with the following set of skills:

  • University degree on Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and/or Engineering.
  • MSc or PhD not required but positively evaluated. Similarly, professional experience is positively evaluated but is not a requirement.
  • Proficient in Python and knowledge of other modern languages.
  • Understanding of different programming paradigms, eg. functional programming.
  • Expertise with the most common algorithm strategies for problem solving, eg. recursive, divide and conquer, dynamic programming, branch and bound, backtracking, greedy and heuristic algorithms.
  • Strong background in statistics.
  • Experience or knowledge of data science, eg. knowledge discovery in databases (artificial intelligence, machine learning), data visualisation.
  • Excellent English communication skills (written and oral), as it is the working language at Innaxis.
  • Great dose of imagination, problem solving skills and passion.

Knowledge of the European air transportation system is highly desirable.

Benefits

The successful candidate will be offered a position as a software-modelling researcher, including a unique set of benefits:

  • Become part of a young, dynamic, highly qualified, collaborative and heterogeneous international team.
  • Flexible working environment, schedule and location.
  • A horizontal hierarchy, small team of researchers working closely with both creativity and ownership.
  • Long-term and stable position; Innaxis has been steadily growing since its foundation ten years ago.
  • Salary adjusted to skills, experience and education.
  • The possibility to develop a unique career outside of mainstream: academics, private companies and consulting.
  • No outsourcing, all tasks will be performed at Innaxis offices.
  • Opportunity to travel in Europe following the research initiatives.
  • An agile working methodology; Innaxis recently implemented JIRA/Scrum and all the research is done on a collaborative wiki/Confluence.

Applying

IMPORTANT: Interested candidates should send their CV, along with an interest letter (around 400 words), and any other relevant information that supports their application to recruitment@innaxis.org. No applications will be considered otherwise.

If your application is accepted, you will be contacted and the interview process will start. We do not rely on a HR department and personally review and interview all candidates.

 

Jet-bridges: The gateway to time-wasting?

Author: Pete Hullah

So you walked for what seems like miles to get to your gate. You've just queued for an age to have your boarding-card scanned and your passport checked. "Bon voyage" says the attendant. Welcome to the jet bridge, or Passenger Boarding Bridge (PBB) in the jargon. A claustrophobic metal box, often not air-conditioned, where you can now stand in another queue, at the front of which a business-class passenger is slowly trying to place too much luggage into the overhead bin while simultaneously talking into a telephone, apparently oblivious to the world behind. When you land, you'll have another interminable walk from your gate to passport-control/luggage-reclaim/exit.

And ever was it so, and ever will it be so.

But why is it like that? This walking and queuing is a constraint on mobility and on the EU goal of having 90% of intra-EU32 air passengers undertaking their journey in less than four hour, door-to-door. There must be something we can do to reduce this.

Why do we walk so far in airports?

In the early days of civil aviation, passengers were led on foot from the terminal to the plane and climbed a mobile staircase to board it; the reverse process applied upon landing. This is still the case in some smaller airports. As the number of flights increased, it became difficult to park planes close to the terminal, thus the walk (sometimes in the rain!) lengthened and more staff were needed to marshal the passengers. From the early 1960s, airports started installing piers and PBBs that made marshalling easy and kept passengers dry. With the development of the hub, PBBs helped passengers transfer between flights within a short time.

But PBBs meant that the gates at an airport have to be spaced far-enough apart to allow aircraft to park at them safely; at least an aircraft wingspan between them therefore. (Some airports reduce the distance a bit by curving the piers of having circular satellites - Paris CDG Terminal 2F and CDG Terminal 1 are examples of this).

Aircraft wingspans can range from some 25m for regional jets like the E170 and CRJ and around 35m for B737s and A320s, to more than 65m for B777s and B747s and even nearly 80m for A380s. The spacing, or combination of spacings, used at a given airport depends on that airport's traffic but it is fair to consider an average 40m walk or travellator from one gate to the next. With a gate either side of the pier we have an average of 20m walk per gate - plus any additional walk (usually a shopping mall) from security/border-control/etc. to the first gate.

Why so much queuing?

160 passengers or so have to wait at the gate while an A320 is prepared to accommodate them and they can board, generally through just one PBB attached to the front door. In order to improve the time it take to actually seat passengers on the plane, airlines often request people to pass through the gate as a function of the "zone", or group of rows, of the aircraft they're seated in - generally starting from the rows at the back. However, it is impossible to impose such a sequence and additionally, business class passengers (seated at the front) are generally advised that they can "board at [their] convenience" thereby blocking other passengers while they stow their cabin luggage. If passengers boarded in the correct sequence boarding time could be massively reduced.

So why not scrap the jet bridge?

Scrapping the jet bridge could be a solution to both these problems and enable a real reduction in time wasted. Isn't it time we re-thought about buses?

Buses are already a feature of airports.

  • Because airlines are charged more for parking at the gate and for using PBBs than for parking further away and using buses some, particularly low-fare airlines, tend to prefer this solution. This is especially the case if the plane has overnighted.
  • A plane could have docked at the wrong section of the airport - an incoming international flight parked at the international terminal will be a domestic outbound whose gate is at the domestic terminal; the domestic passengers are bussed to the airside of the international gate.
  • At Washington Dulles, "mobile lounges" that rise to the aircraft door take international passengers directly to immigration thereby saving time and heightening security by avoiding "losing" passengers on the air-side of the controls.

Now if you ask anyone about buses or mobile lounges at an airport they will cringe! But given that they are uncomfortable - most passengers have to stand in them - that there's no distinction between business and economy classes, and that airport policy seems to be to cram as many passengers as possible into one of them before it moves off, that dislike is understandable. The reason for this overcrowding is mostly economic - why employ 3 drivers when you can squeeze all of the passengers into 2 buses. With the advent of automated transport, this argument is removed.

If aircraft parked at stands by runways, less taxiing would be needed than for getting back to a terminal (especially from the new runways at Frankfurt or Schiphol, for example) and there would be no need for taxiing aircraft to cross runways, which brings a risk of runway incursion accident. Buses use much less fuel to carry the same number of passengers (and they could be electric) and they can use simple tunnels to cross runways.

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If bus loading concourses were designed like a train station under the pier with several buses per flight lined up perpendicular to the pier, the entire width of bus-train, pavement and escalator would be some 5-6 metres per A320. 30 gates would therefore require 180m as opposed to the 600m required today.

Using multiple buses allows embarkation and disembarkation from both the front and rear doors. This can therefore speed up these processes, provided the departing passengers have been assigned to buses according to their seat zone on the plane (rarely the case today). Access to each bus of a bus-train could be controlled by automatic gates opened by scanning a boarding card, thus ensuring correct zoning of the passengers; the business-class bus could be more comfortable than the economy-class ones. Additionally, the buses could be available well before the plane was ready for boarding, taking the place of waiting areas - no pier seating required - and enable the gate process to be executed smoothly at the passenger's convenience and finished on time. Additional seating could be placed on an upper floor in the shopping area.

Once the bus-train has arrived at the aircraft, doors can be opened in sequence to allow passengers to board smoothly. As with the mobile lounges at Dulles, buses can take passengers directly to where they need to be - the central immigration/transfer/luggage-reclaim area - rather than their having to walk down long piers.

A well-designed bus transfer system could reduce walking, boarding and taxiing time at an airport and considerably help reach Europe's 4-hour door-to-door target.

ENTRY LEVEL/JUNIOR DATA ENGINEER

Innaxis is currently seeking for a Data Engineer (Entry Level/Junior ) to join its deployment team, Tadorea. We are based in Madrid, Spain. We look for talented and highly motivated data engineers who want to pursue and lead a career outside of the more mainstream, conventional alternatives. Individuals with a great dose of imagination, problem solving skills, flexibility and passion are encouraged to apply.

As a Data Engineer, you will help the team to design and integrate complete solutions for Big Data architectures; from data extract, load and transform processes until data storage, life cycle, management and delivery for analysis. Always making use of the latest technologies and solutions for the ultimate performance.

Skills wanted
Data Engineers at the Innaxis spin off, work very closely with the rest of the Data Science team, so a broader knowledge and a varied skillset will be very much appreciated.Candidates would be evaluated according to the following items (fulfilling the complete list is not a mandatory requirement)

  • University degree on Computer Science
  • MSc or PhD not required but positively evaluated
  • Professional experience is not a must, although it might be positively evaluated.
  • Proficient in a variety of programming languages, for instance: Python, Scala, Java, R or C++ and up to date on the newest software libraries and APIs, e.g. Tensorflow, Theano.
  • Experience with acquisition, preparation, storage and delivery of data, including concepts ranging from ETL to Data Lakes.
  • Knowledge of the most commonly used software stacks such as LAMP, LAPP, LEAP, OpenStack, SMACK and similar.
  • Familiar with some of the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS platforms currently available such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and similar.
  • Understanding of the most popular knowledge discovery and data mining problems and algorithms; predictive analytics, classification, map reduce, deep learning, random forest, support vector machines and such.
  • Continuous interest for the latest technologies and developments, e.g. blockchain, Terraform.
  • Excellent English communication skills (written and oral). It is the working language at Innaxis.
  • And of course, great doses of imagination, problem solving skills, flexibility and passion.
Benefits
The successful candidate will be offered a position as a Data Engineer, including a unique set of benefits:

  • Being part of a young, dynamic, highly qualified, collaborative and heterogeneous international team.
  • Flexible working environment, schedule and location.
  • A horizontal hierarchy, all researchers’ opinions matter.
  • Long term and stable position. Innaxis is steadily growing since its foundation ten years ago.
  • Salary adjusted to skills, experience and education.
  • The possibility to develop a unique career outside of mainstream: academics, private companies and consulting.
  • No outsourcing whatsoever, all tasks will be performed at Innaxis offices.
  • An agile working methodology; Innaxis recently implemented JIRA/Scrum and all the research is done on a collaborative wiki/Confluence.
Applying
IMPORTANT: Interested candidates should send their CV, together with a interest letter (around 400 words) and any other relevant information supporting their application to recruitment@innaxis.org .You will be contacted further and a personal selection process will start. We deal personally with all candidates.

10 years later… and so much to come!

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This year marks Innaxis’ 10th Anniversary. A most remarkable date that we are very happy to celebrate and share with you. This decade -and the 30 projects developed so far- have provided us the opportunity of creating solid relationships with trusted partners and strengthening those links through successful collaborative stories. We consider you as part of this trusted network of partners, colleagues and friends and we feel very grateful for it.

As you surely know, Innaxis was founded with the objective of finding applications of Complexity Science to address problems of real socio-technical systems. From that (quite abstract) idea, we have done our (exciting and challenging) way to become a reference research organization at the confluence of Complexity Theory, Data Science and Societal Challenges, mainly in the Aviation and Mobility sector. This rapid evolution has been possible, and even more stimulating, thanks to people like you and organizations like yours, who have accompanied us in this journey.

Addressing real-life problems through breakthrough innovation requires a clear focus on applied research and a close collaboration with end-users to ensure the solutions meet users´ expectations and help in solving their needs. To effectively apply some of the research results obtained, we launched some time ago a new venture called Tadorea as a spin-off of Innaxis. Tadorea focuses on applying Knowledge Discovery and Machine Learning solutions to the aviation sector, leveraging on massive data analytics. We strongly believe on the potential of this promising area, and so David Pérez has been appointed as General Manager of Tadorea to take the lead of our spin-off efforts. David will nevertheless stay very well connected to Innaxis by being nominated to its Board of Trustees.

And it is also time to give new responsibilities to people who have been with us for a long time and have shown an outstanding capacity and performance, combined with personal styles which are quite unique. Both Paula López-Catalá as Programme Director and Samuel Cristóbal as Science & Technology Director, are newly appointed to these most relevant functions. Together with them, David, Arantxa Villar as Finance Director and Carlos Álvarez Pereira as President, will integrate the Management Team to pursue our -even more- ambitious goals in this new era which we are much willing to share, explore and enjoy with you.

How do you catch a plane?

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How do you catch a plane? More interestingly: what are the stages of your door-to-door journey when an airline flight is involved? They’re most likely not all the same as anyone else’s.

There are a myriad ways of getting from your starting point (home, office, hotel) to the airport – from “door” to “kerb”. It could be by private car – whether “kiss-and-fly” (driven by family or friend), a ride-share with another passenger/co-worker, a taxi/minicab or their modern app-based equivalents, or we can just drive ourselves and park in the long-term or short-term car park (or maybe an off-site car park which then took you to your terminal by shuttle bus). It could be by bicycle or motorbike. It could be by bus, coach, tram, train, metro, or a combination of these – but how did you get to the stop/station for first one; walking, taxi, driving, “kiss-and-ride”, cycling – and where did the last one drop you off: the terminal, the airport transport hub? You may have driven, and then had to return, a hire car (if this is a return leg or your trip) and then took the hire company’s shuttle. If you left from an airport hotel, you most probably took their shuttle.

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Getting through the airport (from “kerb” to “gate”) also involves many options. Did you check in online or do you have to do it at the terminal? Do you have bags to check in? Do you have to go through passport control? How long is the queue at the security check? How much buffer time did you leave, that you can now spend browsing around the shops? How many miles do you have to walk to get to your gate? Is your flight delayed?

Your answers to these questions (and their equivalents for the “gate” to “kerb” and “kerb” to “door” legs once your flight has landed), as well as the process for the actual flight(s) from gate-to-gate (including any transfers), have a bearing on how long your total journey will take. To be able to determine where there is room for reduction in this journey-time, and where research must be directed to initiate this reduction, in order to meet the ACARE goal of 4 hours door-to-door for intra-EU journeys, the DATASET 2050 team have analysed the component times of the current air journey in detail. This work is presented in the project’s deliverable 4.1 – Current Supply Profile.

Data for such analysis is hard to come by. Much of it is proprietary and, if it’s available at all, is sold at a high price – too high for this project. That which is available generally concerns all passengers, rather than just those on intra-EU travel; are people really likely to ride on one of the scheduled overnight coaches from Edinburgh to Heathrow to take a short-haul flight?

Making use of tools such as those provided by Google Maps, DATASET2050 researchers have been able to see the time taken to access airports by car, bicycle and public transport for a selection of airports.

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 Berlin Tegel access-egress times by (L-R) bicycle, public transport, and car

(NB: scales are different, see them full size below)

These results and the many others included in D4.1 will help colleagues working on the next steps in the DATASET2050 project determine which parts of the different segments of your door-to-door journey can be speeded up, and where research and development is needed to further reduce our journey times.

 

 

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Airport Economic Value study published!

The Modelling Airport Economic Value Study recently published (link here) has been made by the University of Westminster (Andrew Cook, Gerald Gurtner, Graham Tanner and Anne Graham) and Innaxis Research Institute (Samuel Cristobal), supporting EUROCONTROL (Denis Huet and Bruno Desart) within SESAR Project 06.03.01. The study provides a better understanding of the interdependencies of various key performance indicators (KPIs) and assesses the existence and behaviour of an airport economic optimum, in a similar way to the early 2000s, when estimating the economic en-route capacity optimum.

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By gathering for the first time real operational, financial and passenger-satisfaction-related data over 32 European airports, it was possible to develop and calibrate a model which produces reliable and realistic results. The fully calibrated results show the presence of a trade-off between the cost of extra capacity and the increase in the number of flights operated. As a consequence, all 32 airports exhibit a maximum in net income as a function of capacity, when the marginal cost of operating extra capacity is sufficiently low. This threshold in the marginal cost is, however, rather different across airports, and only a few airports can sustain a high cost of capacity: these are the largest and most congested airports, which clearly need extra capacity. This threshold is roughly consistent with the airports’ current operational cost of capacity, which means that they should be able to manage this growth, subject to the availability of investment.

The team has also developed a tool that provides access to all the features of the mathematical model with out having to dig into the equations. The underlying mathematical module is written in Python, while the interface is written in Matlab. The communication between the modules is transparent to the user and the software is capable of auto-calibrate the airport model using the existing or new data. The tool is flexible to explore the parameter space and different views of the output variables can be selected for a better understanding of the model outcomes. Results can be saved then in common format for further use (txt, csv, png, fig, etc.)

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We warmly invite you to read the full report here!

Congrats to Samuel/UoW colleagues for such a superb study 😉

 

A new generation of business traveller

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The DATASET2050 project does not only examine current European passenger profiles but also looks at possible passenger types in 2035 and 2050. To develop future demand profiles, current ones are either adjusted (see Current European PAX profiles), or new profiles are developed. As there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding how we are going to live and travel in the future, and since the project follows a data-driven approach, only passenger characteristics that can be supported by data are taken into consideration. Examples for developments supported by data are the ageing population in Europe, the increase in single households and the tendency to have fewer children per household.

For 2035, six future passenger profiles for the EU28 and EFTA countries are developed. Among these, the Digital Native Business Traveller was identified as one of the main passenger types in Europe. This group takes a journey mainly for occupational reasons and it can be seen as the new generation of business traveller. However, due to the high usage of technological devices one can assume that this passenger type is constantly connected and always online in continuous digital exchange with the private life, friends and family. He or she will be in the typically age of the working population of around 24 to 64 years, which today represents the digital savvy Generation Y and Generation Z. The income level and amount for transport expenditure will be medium to high. 0.5 to 1.5 trips per capita per year are taken, either alone or accompanied by another person. A large share of this passenger type will be female as the increase in female tertiary education enrolments might lead to an increase in working women within higher professions and hence an increase in women travelling for business purposes. Finally, he or she does not mind checking in luggage but takes only hand luggage when going on short trips. Public transport, taxi or car sharing are the preferred airport access mode choices.

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Figure: The new generation of business traveller is digital savvy and constantly connected, enabled by emerging technology and new innovations to come.

This is one example of how a typical passenger group in 2035 could possibly look like. The outcome of all passenger demand profiles will be put in contrast with coming work packages (i.e. future supply profile), enabling this way a complete assessment on the European door-to-door mobility in the future. More information about the remaining passenger types, the methodology and databases can be found in the report on future passenger profiles.

SafeClouds at EASA 2016 annual event and European Commission newsletter

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SafeClouds.eu, the most advanced project to improve aviation safety through data analysis, was presented at the EASA 2016 Annual Safety Conference, held in Bratislava last November.
Carlos Alvarez, President of Innaxis, participated in the panel “Sharing and processing safety data: a vital step forward for safety?”. Carlos laid out the main goals of the project as well as our priorities for the next month, strengthening the importance of an integrated data pipeline, from low level raw data management to embedded analytics, driven by user operational questions. The integrated approach will be capable of developing data science solutions to provide all-new capabilities for safety improvements to aviation stakeholders.
You can watch the video of the session:
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In parallel, SafeClouds.eu was also selected for the INEA/European Commission newsletter. This newsletter highlighted just 6 out of the hundreds projects recently awarded within the EU H2020 programme. As it is pointed in the newsletter “The (SafeClouds) project will develop a novel data mining approach for aviation safety and design innovative representations of the results in order to effectively transfer the gained to such users as airlines and air navigation service providers”

Current European PAX Profiles

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Have you ever wondered about all the different people at the airport? Almost all of us have already flown: for going on holidays, visiting friends and family or going on a business trip. Likewise, many have been sitting at the airport, waiting at the gate and watching different passengers walking past. An airport is a melting pot where people of all ages, backgrounds, income levels and interests come together. As part of the DATASET2050 project, passenger characteristics are examined and six general passenger profiles (PAX profiles) are generated to gain an understanding of what distinguishes current European air travellers.

These PAX profiles are derived using existing passenger studies as well as data on demographical, geographical, socio-economic and behavioural aspects. At first, profiles are distinguished by travel purpose, i.e. whether passenger travel for personal or for business reasons. Since the amount of passengers travelling for private reasons exceeds that of passengers travelling for business reasons (on average across all EU28 + EFTA countries ten per cent business trips), there are four groups describing leisure passengers and two groups describing business travellers, as can be seen in the figure below. Following, passenger groups are assigned to pre-defined age intervals taken from an analysis of European countries as well as respective average travel activity within the particular age group.

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Figure: PAX profiles according to travel purpose and age intervals with example profile information for “Executives”, “Family and Holiday Traveller” and “Best Agers” (own depiction based on PAX profile analysis)

All six passenger groups also differ by their income level. “Executives” have a high income; “Youngsters” have a low income and the remaining passenger groups have a medium income. Income alone has a great impact on travel budget and consequently on travel behaviour, i.e. how often someone is travelling or which transport mode is used to access the airport. Furthermore, the use of technical devices throughout the entire journey depends on age groups. Hence, all six passenger groups differ by the level of frequency in regard to mobile phone and internet usage. This translates to their booking and travelling behaviour as well. “Youngsters” and “Executives” are the two passenger groups using information and communication technologies (ICT) with a high frequency. “Youngsters”, for example, are digitally savvy and more likely to complete travel related tasks online compared to the group of “Best Agers”. Such processes along the journey could be online check-in or generating a boarding card on a mobile device.

The value of time also influences travel behaviour as passengers who value time a lot tend to save time along their journey and vice versa. Among all six PAX profiles, “Executives” and “Price-conscious Business Traveller” value time the most which is reflected, for instance, by their time-saving choice of hand luggage only. In contrast, “Youngsters” are young, often students or apprentices, and time rich but money poor. To compensate their low income, they tend to use public transport (often the longer access mode choice) to save money as they do not mind the additional time spent in public transport. “Family and Holiday Traveller” and “Best Agers” also have a rather low value of time.

The six passenger groups also differ by their length of stay. The trip length in terms of nights staying is another parameter influencing the amount of luggage a particular passenger is taking along the journey. The amount of nights spent at a particular destination differs both by travel purpose and by type of journey conducted. Business travellers tend to spend fewer nights per trip than leisure passengers. And “Youngsters” visiting friends in urban centres spend less nights than “Family and Holiday Traveller” on their summer vacation. In turn, this may influence the access mode selected, the time spent in luggage check-in processes, or during luggage collection at the destination airport. For instance, in order to minimize time and effort accrued to respective handling processes, business passengers reduce the amount of luggage taken along. Finally, it is important to mention that one person can be assigned to several PAX profiles. A manager of an international company can travel for business purposes (being assigned to the group of “Executives”) and in private life being a dad and flying with his wife and two children into the summer vacation (being a “Family and Holiday Traveller”).

More information on the PAX profiles and the analysis can be found in the DATASET2050 report “Data driven approach for a Seamless Efficient Travelling in 2050”.

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