Air bp Airfield Automation safe2go: AR solution to prevent aircraft misfuelling

Air bp Airfield Automation safe2go: award-winning AR solution to prevent aircraft misfuelling

Airfield Automation safe2go is a safety-critical application designed to prevent misfuelling. The first commercially deployed system of its kind globally, it relies on Wikitude’s AR to recognize decals and help operators check they are delivering the correct type of fuel.

THE COMPANY

Air bp is the aviation division of bp and one of the world’s leading suppliers of aviation fuel products and services. In 2019, the company supplied over 6.7 billion gallons of aviation fuel, fuelling over 7,000 flights per day at over 700 locations in more than 55 countries – that’s more than five planes a minute.

Its customers include commercial airlines, the military, business, private aircraft owners, airports, and airfield operators.

Air bp has a wide range of services to support its fuel offer, including technical consultancy and training, innovative digital platforms to increase efficiency, reduce risk, and much more.

THE CHALLENGE

  • Innovate to overcome the industry-wide challenge of misfuellings

Delivering the wrong type of fuel into an aircraft (known as misfuelling) can have fatal consequences, potentially costing human lives. Despite taking care to use selective fuel-grade nozzles and extensive operator training, Air bp considers the misfuelling challenge too great not to try to drastically improve it.

The “no decal, no fuel” policy was the step towards ensuring extra safety, requiring aircraft to have decals confirming the fuel grade.

The innovation didn’t stop here. With over one million over-wing refuellings per year and misfuelling a significant concern within the aviation industry, Air bp has been using technology such as AR to greatly reduce the risk of misfuelling.

THE SOLUTION

  • Air bp Airfield Automation safe2go AR-enabled fuel decal recognition

Air bp’s Airfield Automation safe2go is a cloud-based platform that consolidates all the data associated with Air bp’s refuelling operations. This pioneering solution actively helps prevent misfuelling by verifying requirements via an app on a handheld device in the fuelling vehicle.

For over 20 years, Air bp sought an engineering solution to protect operators against making mistakes. Despite the best training for operators, the human error factor is always present and poses a significant risk. The company’s dream has been to find an automatic way to help operators.

With handheld devices becoming more widespread, the team behind the Airfield Automation safe2go solution tried to find a way to recognize fuel-grade labels (decals) next to the fuelling orifice on the tank. Their goal was to work with something the aircraft already have, without modifying the planes’ construction. The prototype was rolled out and tested in over 40 airports around the world.

The team has identified two main criteria that led to success:

– the technology must never give the wrong grade of fuel (a “false positive” reading) as it’s a safety-critical application

– the high success rate for being able to recognize a decal to fulfill the purpose of the application

After many trials, the AR Image Tracking feature that recognizes patterns proved to be the most reliable solution. It allowed the whole project to proceed as a safety-critical application.

The team soon found out there is a considerable benefit in capturing data in real-time. What used to take almost two days to get the data from the airport into Air bp’s invoicing system now comes through in real-time. It also allowed an airline to send over a fuel order electronically, so the fuelling operators know what they need to deliver to the aircraft. All these benefits permitted the company to offer enhanced digital services for their customers.

The overall success of the Air bp’s Airfield Automation was recognized by the bp Helios Safety Award 2019 and declared the overall winner of the UK Real IT Award 2020, including Excellence in Application Modernisation Award, the Product Innovation Award, and has had its first granted patent.

Interesting facts (June 2021):

  • Airfield Automation (AA) is now live at 322 airports in 28 countries across 4 continents.
  • 496 vehicles at 126 airports are equipped with the AA safe2go app (powered with AR) completing over 12,500 fuellings per week (more than 1 aircraft per minute)
  • Ca. 40% of these AA safe2go fuellings are completed ‘overwing’.
  • Customers and operators benefit from reduced misfuelling risk using AA safe2go’s unique Misfuel Prevention Technology, powered by Wikitude’s Image Recognition.
AR-enabled solution for aircraft safe refuelling

THE AR TECHNOLOGY

Image Tracking allows AR apps to detect, track, and augment 2D images. The Wikitude AR library works with up to 1000 images that can be recognized offline and with thousands of target images hosted in the cloud. This AR feature is ideal for recognizing and augmenting safety verification protocols, streamlining instruction delivery, spatially placing data, and more.

Why Wikitude?

Everybody seems to get the significance of Airfield Automation’s value-added digital services with real-time data, operational and back-office process efficiencies, and last but not least, the critical safety risk of preventing misfuelling an aircraft – there are no ‘lay-bys’ in the sky. Airfield Automation seems to capture the imagination of most people it touches and provides immediate benefits to their role and customers.
Paul Dubenski | Airfield Automation Product Manager | Air bp
 

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