February 2006 
Volume 04, Issue 9 
Commercial Airplanes

A model business

A model business

Answers from Preston help air transport world solve global problems


Melbourne, Australia, might be 9,000 miles away from Boeing's corporate center in Chicago, but it's home to an important part of the company's future.

Preston Aviation Solutions, a Boeing subsidiary in Australia, plays a vital role in making sure the aviation industry can continue to grow and operate in the most efficient manner possible. Preston is an industry leader in advanced simulation, decision support and scheduling software. Its products help customers such as airlines, civil aviation authorities, air navigation service providers, airspace planners and airport operators understand how plans for capacity growth, scheduling, construction and more might affect their operations before they are implemented. That ability helps them avoid bottlenecks and increase efficiency.

Ian AshPreston's products aim at a crucial issue for Boeing: How to increase the capacity of the air transport system while not compromising safety. And that's why Boeing made a strategic decision to acquire the 80-employee company in 1999, said Preston Managing Director Ian Ash.

Preston's staff is in the process of implementing a new corporate strategy to take the company forward over the next five years, Ash said. That model emphasizes growth, profitability and customer satisfaction (see box below).

Preston has three business segments: its air traffic suite of products, its airport solutions suite and consulting solutions.

The air traffic suite includes Preston's first and most successful product, the Total Airport and Airspace Modeler. By providing fast-time gate-to-gate simulation, TAAM enables customers to simulate five days of operation at a major airport in less than 30 minutes, and can simulate airports of all sizes. That helps airport customers—which include major airports in cities such as Beijing, Tel Aviv, Dubai and Hong Kong—see the effect on operations of changes such as ground-infrastructure reconfigurations.

The Air Traffic suite also includes Preston's Aircraft Activity Display System, an operational gate-to-gate flight-tracking tool with intelligent look-ahead capabilities. AADS ingests air traffic data and weather information and presents this to dispatchers and airline operations staff to enable real-time aircraft monitoring against the projected flight paths.

It also can be used in simulation mode, to determine which disturbances will affect what airplanes and to let airlines make cost-effective reroute decisions. "That allows the airline to reduce disruption and passenger inconvenience, as well as save money," Ash said. AADS provides significant additional value when used with OPSControl, an operations planning product from fellow Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen.

The Airport Solutions suite provides allocation and management of airport resources in the terminal and apron areas. Preston's gate management, check-in solutions and baggage allocation systems each provide an optimized allocation of flights according to a set of customer-defined rules. These systems can be utilized in either an operations or planning mode and have been successfully applied at airports worldwide.

As part of its airport solutions suite, Preston offers PaxSim, a passenger and baggage simulation tool that models movement through the terminal. "If you need to determine the impact of additional airport security systems, the two-dimensional view would readily show that, as well as where bottlenecks would develop," Ash said.

The Consulting Services group, meanwhile, features a team of experts with backgrounds in air traffic control or military aviation and a strong appreciation of the issues encountered in aviation planning. This group uses Preston's products to conduct studies for its customers and provides comprehensive reports and visualizations of their proposed changes.

With its range of products and services, the opportunity for increased collaboration with Jeppesen and Boeing, a highly talented work force, and a reputation for quality delivery, Preston is set for growth and a high profile within Boeing.


A plan for the future

Here's a look at the seven-point corporate strategy of Preston Aviation Solutions, a Boeing subsidiary.

  • Run a profitable business.
  • Sustain business growth through strategic partnerships.
  • Establish business in new markets, such as the military.
  • Be Boeing's first choice for relevant software development or consulting studies. "We have been acknowledged as a software development center of excellence, and our competitive cost base and skills in project management and software will help us bring even greater value to Boeing," said Preston Managing Director Ian Ash.
  • Exceed our customers' expectations.
  • Provide improved operational efficiency for our customers.
  • Support our people to succeed in all that we do.

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