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  • China West Airport Group Lays Digital and Intelligent Foundation for Transforming the Civil Aviation Industry

    China West Airport Group Lays Digital and Intelligent Foundation for Transforming the Civil Aviation Industry

Humankind has never stopped the exploration for more convenient and efficient transportation, and has set foot in almost every corner of the world. Now, we are global citizens with an air-land-sea transportation network. As we develop technology, this transportation network constantly improves, drawing us closer and setting the wheels of human society in faster motion.

China's civil aviation has boomed as a vital part of its national transportation system. In recent years, airlines have been tapping into digital and intelligent applications to improve service quality and operational efficiency. China West Airport Group (CWAG) is also making headway with data and intelligence, flying towards an intelligent future.

Intelligent Transformation Is the Only Way to Make the Group's Vision a Reality

Founded in 2008, CWAG is China's second-largest airport management group that operates across provinces and autonomous regions. CWAG now manages 18 airports in Shaanxi, Ningxia, and Qinghai; its largest is Xi'an Xianyang International Airport, closely followed by Yinchuan Hedong International Airport and Xining Caojiabao International Airport. The remaining 15 airports include 12 feeder airports and three general aviation airports. The number of airports that CWAG manages, as well as its total passenger and cargo throughput, combine to account for over 70% of the total in northwest China. The annual passenger throughput of Xi'an Xianyang International Airport is estimated to reach 83 million by 2030.

CWAG aims to become a first-class airport management group with international influence. It has gone to great lengths to create air transportation service clusters with full network coverage, quality services, and unique, memorable features that make it stand out. CWAG hopes these service clusters will be influential across the Belt and Road Initiative and be a competitive force within China.

As more types of airports became members of CWAG, its industrial chain extended, and the sheer scale of the business expanded dramatically. It has imposed higher requirements on the group's existing organizational structures alongside its operational and management models. In addition, CWAG's traditional information and ELV systems were holding the group back from going smart, which was the biggest challenge. How could it closely interconnect and integrate its businesses, systems, and data while avoiding repetitions, omissions, and deviations? As its airport construction involved many systems, products, user units, and construction units, how could it make its management comprehensive and well-coordinated?

"At present, large airports are getting bogged down by insufficient support resources, difficult operations, and a rapidly increasing workforce. These bad situations can hardly be improved simply by relying on infrastructure optimization. What we urgently need is a smart solution," said Wang Qiyu, the General Manager of CWAG's Information Management Department. CWAG can realize its strategic vision only through intelligent transformation.

The Long-Haul Flight to Arrive at Business Intelligence

During Xi'an Xianyang International Airport's Phase III Expansion Project, CWAG joined hands with Huawei to embark on an intelligent journey. Through this project, CWAG introduced the 4A concept to the industry. 4A refers to four architectures: business architecture (BA), data architecture (DA), application architecture (AA), and technology architecture (TA). After systematically analyzing its production business, CWAG established an Architecture and Standards Management Committee to maintain the architecture, ensuring the standardization of its informatization projects.

Building a digital and intelligent foundation: Based on Huawei Cloud, CWAG built a reliable and secure digital and intelligent foundation to support its transformation. It adopted an active-active architecture for cloud services to ensure reliability, allowing business systems on the cloud to run uninterrupted. Cloud-network-security integration contributed to comprehensive security. In addition, CWAG also introduced high-performance computing power and an efficient AI platform, which empowered the intelligent transformation of its business.

CWAG chose to migrate all core systems to the cloud. In the Phase III Expansion Project of Xi'an Xianyang International Airport, upwards of 50 systems will be cloudified to improve system reliability and simplify O&M. It has also deployed computing power beyond 100P to support airport AI applications. In time, this project's cloud architecture and construction will be replicated across more member airports to realize unified architecture and O&M based on one cloud and multiple resource pools.

Comprehensively managing data: High-quality data is a prerequisite for intelligent transformation. From building a complete data management system to comprehensively managing data, CWAG has created a useful big data platform. Such a data platform can provide high-quality computing materials for intelligence construction and ensure clean data is smoothly transferred between upwards of 70 systems within Xi'an Xianyang International Airport. It has also been investing in data mining, intending to develop over 1000 indicators and 20 algorithm models to provide data support for 37 applications. Its data management will enhance operational efficiency and service quality and deliver passengers the best possible travel experience.

Creating a digital and intelligent ground handling solution: Ground handling is one of the chief responsibilities of an airport. The flight support process includes many links and requires all manners of departments and participants. Traditional operation dispatch models can no longer keep up with modern flight support. Therefore, CWAG has developed a digital and intelligent ground handling solution, and introduced a flattened operation control model as well as an intelligent operation management solution. The intelligent and efficient ground handling algorithm proved key to success.

CWAG has developed a better understanding of business during its cooperation with Huawei. It has improved its mathematical modelling and gained a high-quality big data platform, not to mention a high-performance computing power foundation. The group can now predict and generate warnings for the real-time status of flights, passengers, and resources, ensuring intelligent dispatch for support resources. Since the digital and intelligent ground handling system's rollout, CWAG has witnessed much more effective and efficient flight control. The number of airplanes that a member of staff can support has been improved by 20%, and the ground handling time has been shortened by 17%. The solution has been adopted by other member airports, with one map for flight support across the whole group.

"Capitalizing on Huawei's high-performance computing power and open intelligent platforms, as well as state-of-the-art algorithms for the industry, our group has developed 35 intelligent solutions for security, operation, services, and other scenarios based on its digital and intelligent foundation," said Lin Bin, Deputy General Manager of CWAG.

Creating a Promising Future with Data and AI

Through the Phase III Expansion Project of Xi'an Xianyang International Airport, CWAG has developed a series of scenario-specific smart applications. It has designed exemplary data- and AI-enabled airports, and perfected a practical method of intelligent transformation and upgrade for the civil aviation industry.

Looking ahead, the group will focus on applying AI foundation models to scenarios within its hub airports, developing intelligent scenarios for airport groups, and achieving group-wide intelligent management based on what has already been achieved. With a focus on collaboration, CWAG and Huawei will collaborate with more industry application partners to facilitate intelligent transformation and upgrade across the civil aviation industry, jointly creating a promising future with data and AI.