Smart Airport

Technological developments are providing ample opportunities for effectively increasing capacity and enhancing safety, security and passenger experience. With the aim of developing HKIA into a smart airport, AAHK has been working closely with its business partners and technology companies to develop and employ innovative solutions to redefine the future travel experience.

Q&A with Alex Kwan – the then Executive Director, Engineering & Technology

Q:Please tell us about AAHK’s vision, drivers and roadmap towards a Smart Airport.

HKIA aims to deliver a unique passenger experience and to further enhance operational efficiency by making effective and innovative use of technology. Our commitment to be a leading airport in the development and roll out of technology and innovation is underpinned by our Smart Airport vision. In 2015, the HKIA Technovation Board was established to drive innovation and technology development at HKIA. The announcement of the HKIA Technology Roadmap two years later outlined the five key enabling technologies to help us realise our smart airport city vision.

Q:What are the key enabling technologies to help enhance various aspects of airport operations?

  1. Advanced biometrics powered by facial recognition will be used to create a single-use digital token enabling passengers to pass through various checkpoints throughout the airport without queuing for document checks.
  2. Mobile technology, such as HKG My Flight app, is central to connecting passengers with personalised functions and information, including real-time flight update, boarding alert, airport directional signage translation, and baggage arrival notice.
  3. Automation and robotics at critical functions, such as baggage and cargo delivery plus airfield and terminal operations, will enhance efficiency, helping us to meet raising traffic demands and alleviate capacity constraints.
  4. Digital Twin – a digital 3D replica of the physical structure and facilities of HKIA – will facilitate holistic airport management, predictive decision making and maintenance. Its application will cover design, construction, operation and maintenance for the full life cycle of our buildings.
  5. Big data intelligence is the overarching technology powering the above technologies allowing AAHK to gain insight to further optimise airport operations.

The integrated applications of these technologies will deliver solutions to accelerate our digital transformation.

Q:What were the major progress and milestones in 2018/19?

Progress was made across key areas, including the installation of 44 e-Security Gates at T1 equipped with facial recognition. New features, such as traffic congestion alerts, online payment for airport parking and a chatbot, were added to our HKG My Flight mobile app. Multifunctional robots were piloted to monitor temperature and Wi-Fi signals in the terminal buildings. Autonomous electric tractor trials were carried out in the apron.

Q:Which aspect of a Smart Airport are you most excited about?

I am most excited about autonomous electric tractors (AET), as HKIA is pioneering the application of autonomous driving technology in airfield operations. Having completed a driverless trial in March 2019, we are adapting autonomous driving technology onto electric tractors to transport baggage and cargo on the apron. The AET promotes the sustainable development of HKIA by improving the safety and work conditions of tractor drivers while enhancing efficiency in baggage and cargo delivery.

Q:How will this transformation support HKIA’s continued growth?

We expect to handle over 120 million passengers and around 10 million tonnes of cargo by 2035. The expanded usage of innovative technologies will improve operational efficiency and enhance capacity while streamlining airport operations to meet future demand. Other e-facilities, including facial-recognition-powered self-boarding gates and e-transfer gates, are planned for installation in phases. Together, we aim to transform the airport experience by enabling passengers to seamlessly navigate around HKIA.