Economic Watch: China powers ahead with smart airport development

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-26 19:01:05|Editor: Liangyu
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by Xinhua writer Hu Tao

BEIJING, June 26 (Xinhua) -- China's commitment to develop smart airports is injecting new opportunities into global aviation by creating a worldwide market for innovative ideas and technologies, said senior executives with TLD Group.

China's massive civil aviation market had great demand for new technologies, said TLD Asia chief executive officer Thomas Dorn.

TLD is a major airport ground support equipment group, with seven plants around the world, including two in China.

"The construction of smart airports is among the key priorities of China's civil aviation authorities. That will surely benefit local and global suppliers," Dorn said.


Airports are not only places to leverage connection of people, they are also acknowledged as innovation hubs for high-tech facilities and operation management.

For China, smarter airports are key to its sustainable, safe and efficient development.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has enhanced support to sustain industry growth, and set safe, green, smart and human-oriented airports as a priority.

"China values sustainable development. For smart airports, innovative high-technology is not enough; they should contribute to saving fuel, cutting emissions, reducing noise and efficient management," said TLD Asia vice president of sales and services Chris Tam.

The TLD is capable of providing more than 100 models of 15 kinds of airport ground support equipment, ranging from the conventional aircraft tractor, baggage tractor, passenger steps to catering trucks and other professional equipment.

"China is a great market for us, massive demands and huge potentials," Tam said.


"Beyond a great market, China is dragging new technologies into practical applications," Tam said.

For example, China is promoting electric products for airport support uses.

To meet this demand, TLD will bring tailored lithium-battery-powered tractors.

"We standardize batteries for airport tractors, which enables us to put new models into mass production," said Tam.

"TLD has developed a new generation of airport ground facilities with clean-power and automatic technologies, such as the hybrid-electric TaxiBot tractors and autonomous cargo tractors."

Chinese airports need to operate more efficiently in an era with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data.

At the end of 2018, China had 235 civil airports, including 37 with at least 10 million passengers annually, according to the CAAC.


China is the world's second largest civil aviation market, and is forecast to become the largest by the mid-2020s. It has been a common understanding that the Chinese civil aviation market is a "must" for global aviation players.

"Our mission is to provide diligent, efficient and thorough after-sales support to our customers, wherever they are based. Now, we produce in China and serve our customers globally," Dorn said.

TLD has made China a major production base with two plants in Shanghai and Wuxi.

"We have also introduced new technologies here and trained local professionals," Dorn said.

China-made TLD equipment has been exported to Japan, Southeast Asian countries and other markets.

"We will surely gain more and contribute more to smarter Chinese airports," said Tam.