When passengers need to be transported from the airport building to the aeroplanes or vice versa and the aircraft cannot dock directly with the terminal itself, the solution for ensuring mobility is the airfield shuttle bus.

On last Monday, the company that operates Frankfurt Airport, Fraport AG, put 28 Mercedes-Benz Citaro airfield shuttle buses into service. The new fleet of airfield shuttle vehicles comprises four Citaro solo buses and 24 Citaro articulated buses manufactured in Mannheim. For the time being, these will be used to transport passengers for Terminals 1 and 2; in the long term, however, they will be used for the new Terminal 3. At the ceremonial handover, Till Oberwörder, General Manager of Marketing, Sales & Aftersales for Daimler Buses, presented a symbolic key for the new fleet of airfield shuttle vehicles to Peter Schmitz, the Fraport AG executive board member responsible for operations.

Modular customisation package
Fraport AG selected the vehicle equipment based on the specific requirements for airfield transportation. The main objective here is the swift and efficient transit of passengers. To this end, the single buses have three doors, and the articulated buses have four doors. A special feature of the Citaro articulated buses is that doors 2 and 3 are swinging and sliding external doors. This creates additional standing room in the door space, which means that passengers in the interior can stand right behind the door without impeding its operation or causing the journey to be held up for safety reasons. To provide passengers as much standing room as possible for these relatively short journeys, the number of seats in the 12-metre-long solo airfield shuttle buses was reduced to 30, while the number of seats in the 18-metre-long articulated airfield shuttle buses was reduced to 38. Passengers with limited mobility can gain easy access to the vehicles, all of which feature a low-floor design, thanks to a folding ramp.

In addition to a powerful air conditioning system, which keeps the interior pleasantly cool on hot days despite the frequent opening of the doors, Fraport also equipped the vehicles with an externally mounted destination or, to be more precise, flight destination, display system. This is controlled via Fraport’s own information system, TESS, using UMTS technology. TESS provides the driver with all the necessary information about the route and destination on a special driver PC tablet, while also delivering the voice messages in the bus.

Focus on economic efficiency
Although significant vehicle customisation was required, Fraport opted for the sophisticated Citaro series concept. With well over 30,000 units sold since 1997, the Mercedes-Benz city bus is the most successful city bus of all time. This success is due to a consistent modular design concept which appeals to bus service operators. The modular design of the Citaro means a very flexible production process and the ability to implement different vehicle lengths, superstructures, bodies, load levels, and numerous special equipment and special design options, for example door arrangements or door variants. The Citaro concept places special emphasis on maintainability and the interchangeability of parts between the different models. These are factors which reflect positively in the Life-Cycle-Costs (LCC) over the long “life” of a bus, and they are also arguments that make the Citaro attractive as an airfield shuttle bus. Furthermore, with its vehicle width of 2.55 metres, the Citaro is ideal for operating in the sometimes confined spaces at Frankfurt Airport. The extensive service network and the rapid response this can provide when help is required were also important factors in the vehicle purchasing decision.

Source: Daimler AG