Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Committee Chair

Robert J. Cloutier, Ph.D


Airports are a significant economic driver that impact local and national interests. As such, in an ever connected world, these critical components of infrastructure face a growing number of influences which contribute to systems complexity and frequently impede further development. The point of this dissertation is to discuss and highlight the benefit of systematic thinking as planners approach airport planning challenges and update the aging aviation infrastructure in many regions of the world.

This dissertation looks at a series of three papers that, examine the impact and influences of technology, distinguishes the effects of social and procedural changes, and offers one solution to simplify systems planning and integration within the aviation industry. The first paper presented is an examination of the history of Pan American World Airways through a data centered look at the growth of the fleet. The second paper examines some of the current and impending risk broken into categories, based on an examination of socio-technical systems. The final paper offers a solution a new system that could be constructed at an airport, which could simplify an aircraft turn around xiv process and help future proof airports for some of the expected changes that will impact the aviation industry. The solution proposed in CHAPTER V offers an example of a systemic change to the development of the apron area. This new concept integrates most of the apron area systems into a single system for aircraft loading and unloading. This work shows the need to accommodate industry changes as they develop, and clearly identifies some of the most obvious challenges and risks that face the aviation industry. This work further offers one method for solving and avoiding the costly interventions usually required to overhaul a system when emergent behavior necessitates a physical change to the infrastructure of the system.

As with the development of any dissertation, much of this document has been updated and improved actively throughout this process. While this is a final document there is always more that can be added. This provided a complete overview of the apron area though and provides a clear contribution to the aviation industry.