KLM Inaugurates Europe’s First Automatic Jet Bridge

KLM has inaugurated the first automatic jet bridge in Europe. The airline is looking to cut the docking process down to just one minute as it aims to increase the efficiency of aircraft turnarounds.

KLM, Automatic Jet bridge, Amsterdam schipol
KLM has inaugurated the world’s first automatic jet bridge. Photo: KLM

The process of docking a jetbridge can take a lot of skill. Like flying an aircraft, the jet bridge operator is able to move it up, down, left, right forward, and backwards. They are also able to rotate them along with some other functions. KLM is looking to take the complexity out of the process.

Elsewhere in the world, Wellington Airport has been making use of an automatic docking system for almost a year, having been the first airport in the world to use one. Wellington Airport provided the following statement to Simple Flying about the technology:

“lntellidock was first deployed in November 2018 at Gate 13 (mainly A320) and later on gate 26 (mainly 777-200). The technology works really well and exceeds our expectations. User error is
now an issue of the past and the aero bridge gets docked in a similar timeframe almost every time which has a positive impact on the arrival experience and OTP. We are now retrofitting all of our 6 apron drive PBB’s with lntellidock.

“Wellington International Airport Ltd, will make substantial savings in operating costs, turnaround times and passenger satisfaction, due to lntellidock’s ground breaking technology.”

You can watch the jet bridge in action in the clip below:

Schipol trial

KLM is trialing the new automatic jet bridge at its home airport in Amsterdam, the busy Schipol Airport. The new jet bridge has two walkways. On aircraft such as the Boeing 777 and 787, the jet bridge can use two sets of doors. However, according to KLM, the jet bridge in question is capable of acting on double decker aircraft, in other words, the Airbus A380, as it is not possible to load Boeing 747s via the top door.

As KLM doesn’t use the Airbus A380, it is unlikely that the technology will be trialed on the aircraft at this point in time. The trial will be limited to one aircraft while KLM investigates the effectiveness of the new technology.

KLM, Automatic Jet Bridge, Amsterdam Schipol
The jet bridge can dock in just 1 minute! Photo: KLM

How does it work?

The jet bridge is jam packed full of technology to identify aircraft. This includes smart cameras which are able to identify the doors of an aircraft. This is in addition to other sensors.

The jet bridge still requires an operative to be present. They will activate the jet bridge and oversee the operation. Every now and again, we see aircraft damaged due to a jet bridge strike. In fact, this took Hi Fly’s Airbus A380 out of action previously. The agent will presumably be watching, ready to press a big red button if this could happen with the automatic jet bridge.

Great innovation

René de Groot, KLM’s CEO, called the technology a great innovation. He said of the creation,

“The fully automatic passenger bridge at Schiphol is a great innovation and can make a real difference … KLM is proud to have contributed to its development. The bridge can connect up within one minute, and that means shorter waiting times for our customers.”

KLM Inaugurates Europe’s First Automatic Jet Bridge
Could the quick docking time prove attractive to Ryanair? Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Meanwhile, Dick Benschop, CEO of Royal Schiphol Group, said,

“I am proud that [Europe’s] first fully automatic double-decker passenger bridge is going into operation at Schiphol.”

Do you think you automatic jet bridges are the way forward? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Updated 25/09/2019 13:24 – added information about Intellibridge in Wellington.