rj777
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Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:20 am

How do airlines determine what flight goes to what gate? It must be a complex system, especially at bigger airports like ORD, MSP, HOU, etc.
 
ALTF4
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RE: Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:31 pm

I've always wondered this myself, too.

Also - (hope this isn't too off topic - its similar) how about getting to the gate from ladning. Does dispatch alert the ground controllers what gate a certain flight needs to go to? Or does dispatch tell the crew, who then requests taxi to the specific gate? I know gate assignments change mid-flight all the time, so I'd be interested to learn how that works.

If you want me to make a new thread, I'll do that - it just seemed similar enough  
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AlnessW
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RE: Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:41 pm

I know that in certain airports, certain airlines operate a very small hub and only use one gate.

For example, at BOS Terminal A, Alaska Airlines only has 2 arrivals and 2 departures per day, so they only need gate A18 for all of their flights. In a situation like that, they wouldn't need a predetermined gate assignment.
 
YYZatcboy
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RE: Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:22 am

It's usually on the flight plan, as worked out by the flight planning/network software. Any changes are radioed on the company frequency when the flight checks in with the airport to let them know SSR's and that stuff.

As noted above, usually airlines only operate out of one or two gates.
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Web500sjc
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RE: Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:33 am

on liveATC.com, when an airplane lands the first thing the pilot asks is what gate they are going to- so some how the pilot knows before hand what gate they are going to- maybe ACARS.
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B727LVR
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RE: Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:56 am

I am sure that their dispatch paper work will already tell them which gate they are assigned before they leave their departure airport, ACARS is used to adjust gate assignments, its used to send alot of messages. I have heard in SEA (this was on an United flight), my plane cleared the runways, and was close to entering the parking ramp, they switched over to a ramp frequency, and was given a gate assignment that way.
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Fly2HMO
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RE: Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Sat Aug 07, 2010 3:06 am

It varies per airport. The gate is assigned before the plane ever leaves the ground. IF it changes the crew may be advised over ACARS or in the in-range call. telling ground control the specific gate need not be necessary. the pilots may request taxi to terminal such and such or taxi via north/south.west route or whatever. then once leaving a taxiway and entering the ramp they may monitor or contact ramp control. this is all assuming a flight going into a hub. smaller stations may have it much less complicated.

Quoting web500sjc (Reply 4):
on liveATC.com, when an airplane lands the first thing the pilot asks is what gate they are going to- so some how the pilot knows before hand what gate they are going to- maybe ACARS.

I'm assuming you meant "the first thing ATC asks". And at what airport was this?
 
jetmatt777
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RE: Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Sat Aug 07, 2010 3:30 am

At most airports, pilots request a certain ramp. For Atlanta, there are 6 numbered ramps. Pilots request the ramp their gate is in. It might go something like this:

ATC: "Delta 586, Atlanta Ground, where do you park?"

DAL586: "Ground, we park in Ramp 5, Delta 586."

ATC: "Delta 586, taxi to Ramp 5 south. [...]"

ATC knowing the exact gate is redundant and most of the time useless information.

At airports like OKC with one main terminal ramp, Tower gives aircraft a taxi clearance to the ramp upon rolling out on the runway.

OKC TWR "United 350, exit left on Echo-6. Echo, Echo-8 to the ramp, monitor ground point niner."

As far as airlines assigning gates for their flights, I honestly don't know. I assume they maintain a rough blueprint for each day, and adjust as necessary based on the increase or decrease of flights for that day. Also adjust as necessary for mid-day gate swaps. Keeping the gate assignments roughly the same for each day with exact adjustments each day makes the most sense, but I don't know how they do it.
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bohica
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RE: Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Sat Aug 07, 2010 3:52 am

Quoting ALTF4 (Reply 1):
how about getting to the gate from ladning. Does dispatch alert the ground controllers what gate a certain flight needs to go to? Or does dispatch tell the crew, who then requests taxi to the specific gate? I know gate assignments change mid-flight all the time, so I'd be interested to learn how that works.

In many cases station Operations will notify the crew of the gate assignment via the Operations radio frequency or via ACARS. At ACA in IAD for example, wherever the plane was scheduled for the next departure determined the gate for the arriving flight no matter where it was coming from. The crew then told the ground controllers on initial contact after clearing the runway their gate assignment. Ground needed this information so they know where to hand off the plane to the ramp tower. Crews would then tell the ramp tower the gate assignment. Of course this only works in a perfect world.

Many times the gate assignments change mid-flight. This can be due to many reasons, including last minute aircraft swaps, arrival/departure time conflicts, ramp congestion, ATC delays, advance knowledge an aircraft will be on maintenance upon arrival, delayed flight at the gate, etc. In other words, a typical day at a hub station.   Sometimes one gate change will snowball into multiple gate changes. If the gate changed after we notified the crew of their gate assignment, we would send another ACARS message with the gate change and repeat the gate change to them once they call on the ground.
 
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Web500sjc
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RE: Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Sat Aug 07, 2010 4:40 am

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 6):
And at what airport was this?

LAX
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rduoodl
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RE: Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:58 am

I take an upcoming flight schedule and assign every flight number a gate based on aircraft sizes, arrival/departure times and destination city. It is the same gate for each flight number until the next schedule change comes around. If all goes smooth during the day, no gate changes be made and the gate table will be used again for the next day. When we run into delays some flights will be shifted to other gates. Sometimes the conflict can be seen and fixed, sometimes it is unexpected. I do everything possible to avoid the "snowball effect." On occasion it happens and I'm just along for the ride. The flight numbers are returned to their scheduled gates every night. You will notice this if you fly a particular flight number often. Some small changes are made nightly due to the equipment types that will operate the next day.

To build the gate schedule, I check for any flights that have equipment that cannot park on certain gates for a variety of reasons: aircraft is too large/too small, fueling pit locations, ERJ adaptor locations, baggage buddies, etc. Secondly, I try to give as much time as possible before the next aircraft is due in. Flights to JFK/LGA/BOS get extra attention/ground-time as they are frequently involved in ATC flow control. Then, if possible, I will keep as many flights to one city on the same gate for the day as a courtesy to our FF base. About 90% of on-time ATL flights depart out of C15, most LGA flights depart from C7 or C9.

Hubs cities will have a computer do this for them and send alerts to "gate-keepers" before gate conflicts occur. Sometimes they also have overflow gates that a problem flight can be assigned to stop the snowball effect from happening.

The planning of how to get to your gate can begin all the way back when on approach. The controller will attempt to line you up with the runway nearest your gate, if possible. For example at RDU: CHQ flights under the CO banner will be given 5R/23L, while the DL/AA's get 5L/23R. This helps to avoid taxiway congestion. Once on the ground, the ground controller will do one of three things:
1. Request your parking info, then give you instructions (mainly for airlines that fly under multiple banners)
2. Give instructions to you based solely on your airline (smaller airports)
3. Clear you to the ramp, contact ramp control (larger airports, operations reports gate assignments to the controllers)

I know this is alot, but I hope it helps.

[Edited 2010-08-07 18:17:15]

[Edited 2010-08-07 18:25:19]
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etherealsky
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RE: Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Sun Aug 08, 2010 2:19 am

Quoting RDUOODL (Reply 10):
Quoting jetMatt777 (Reply 7):

Cool replies, very interesting  
Quoting RDUOODL (Reply 10):
ERJ adaptor locations

What are these?

Quoting RDUOODL (Reply 10):
Then, if possible, I will keep as many flights to one city on the same gate for the day as a courtesy to our FF base. About 90% of on-time ATL flights depart out of C15, most LGA flights depart from C7 or C9

FF = frequent fliers?
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Maverick623
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RE: Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:58 am

As said before, it varies airport to airport. The basics are the same - time between flights, which gates can handle which planes, close connections, etc.


Here in PHX T4 north we use a specialized computer program (simply named GateView) to give us a visual representation of gate assignments, aircraft types, tail numbers, STA/ETA and STD/ETD, and any other information the gate manager sees fit to tell us. There is a Lead agent in the ramp tower that makes assignments and adjusts it according to operational need. We also have two ramp controllers (also Lead agents) who actually communicate with any aircraft parking on the north side of T4 and clear them in and out of the ramp area on one of two frequencies we have.

As far as deciding which plane goes where, we have a predetermined flow chart that gets set up overnight into the system. Then, everything is changed (literally, sometimes) due to late or early inbounds, medicals, MX delays, ATC delays, etc.
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rduoodl
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RE: Gate Assignments- How Are They Determined?

Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:33 pm

Quoting etherealsky (Reply 11):
ERJ adaptor locations

What are these?



These are the big metal bridges that are used between jetways and aircraft that have fixed handrails or no stairs built in. Mainly on E135/145 equipment. They weigh about 200lbs and are hard to transfer to other gates. Our jetways have retractable floors that have match the doors to CRJs. Other stations use the adaptors for all CRJ/ERJ flights. I only have 2 of these adaptors for all of our gates, so planning around them is pretty important.


And yes, the FFs are frequent fliers. There are many other reasons we try to keep the same flights at the same gates everyday. They include: not having gate agents/ramp crews constantly moving to other gates; allowing ramp agents to position equipment at certain gates long before flights arrive; knowing what my back-up options are for gate conflicts. Just like everything else in the world, having a standardized approach will make it easier.

[Edited 2010-08-08 12:54:42]
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