The first story in today’s show is dedicated to extremely complex tasks performed at the Belgrade airport so that everyone who wants to come and leave from our country will do so in a more efficient, comfortable and safer way. At “Nikola Tesla Belgrade Airport” our hosts are the duty managers who take care of the accurate progression of complex processes and procedures, day by day, to make thousands of people – and many more luggage, goods and mail – on more than a hundred flights a day, came to Belgrade or leave the city, safely and on time. Duty managers are in constant communication with all airport services whose function is controlled and aligned with the regular daily needs of airlines and passengers. Duty managers are in charge of all situations requiring an emergency response in the service of the airport, from entry of passengers in the airport building to the last meter of the runway and the last signal light in the fields of Surčin village. If we look at the building, the Belgrade airport cannot be compared to some very attractive airports in some other metropolises, but in this situation where it is not possible to spend large sums of money for the most modern terminals and interior, the Belgrade airport administration made a reasonable decision that the utmost priority is to fully meet the high standards of operations and safety of this air traffic port. What we see when we go to fly is a short sequence of places and events: from entering the airport building, waiting in the halls, shops, in front of the counters, in the cafes, in front of information screens and billboards, through the checking procedure (check-in and handover of luggage), security and passport control, passing through the platforms and the waiting room, to the aircraft. If everything were so simple, the airports would be similar to some kind of a huge bus station, with huge parking lots. But, the reality is much more complex. Today, the airports are very complex and precise mechanisms that, with all the necessary technology, depend on a large number of people who work there. Their jobs are precisely defined by procedures that build up a system that must function impeccably in both regular and emergency situations. Before we go on a tour around the airport, we have to say that the essential role of the airport services is working with passengers, which requires the staff to be kind and professional. – The passenger is in the first place. So, everything is being adjusted to the passenger, we always look to meet their needs. The airport staff knows and is trained to be kind to the traveler – professionally kind, and the traveler is always right, but you know how it looks like to work with people, there is a lot of passengers, and there are various airlines and demands, and we are trying to find some balanced relationship so that everyone is satisfied. Following the duty manager throughout the day, his work as a chief host of the airport, we visited several important services that stay invisible to the passengers. None of these services can be more important than the other one, but each of them is indispensable for the reliable operation of the airport, that is the timely and safe reception and dispatch of aircraft, passengers, goods and luggage. – The duty manager is one of the main coordinators of the work of all these services, he is in charge of regular and safe traffic, and in order to be able to fulfill this basic job and purpose, he must have information about the circumstances in each service, primarily about the number of executors and about an operational condition of the resources they use in their work. In our visit to the counter-diversion control service, we have learned how much this service is vigilant about safety and what is their work in the airport security operations. Here we see technically and technologically very sophisticated checking that have become standard at all international airports. – The baggage is handed over at the counters located in the part of the building that is accessible to all travelers and visitors, and this luggage goes through the conveyor belt system to the part where the sorting is carried out. It is passing through the X-ray machines where we control it and – If everything is fine – it is going to be conveyed further to its flight. The experts for counter-diversion control have shown to us the process of baggage screening and scanning on different layers, levels of detail, and by many different criteria. Not only certain forms are detected inside the bags and packages, but these machines – actually complex computers and even more complex software – check, for example, the density of each individual item or any content in every single piece of luggage. Everything is being compared to the data in the databases of hazardous forms, materials and substances. The luggage in this procedure remains firmly closed, but completely transparent for extremely precise scanners and the most sensitive sensors, presenting different luggage analyzes on large screens in real time, in the service of counter-diversion control of the Belgrade airport. The service that is maintaining and controlling the maneuvering area and the light marking system was our next station. We visited the runway and the maneuvering area for the planes by car checking with our hosts whether all the surfaces were clean. During this fine November afternoon, such a job was simple, however, it should not be forgotten that the service deals with landing, take-off and runway maintenance in all weather conditions, especially hostile conditions. They do everything that is necessary in order to make all runways and all other maneuvering surfaces clean and properly marked, so that the landing and take-off of the aircraft is safe. – If the runway is not clean, the airport, or one part of the airport operations can be terminated until the object is removed from the runaway. Or, it’s very much removed during our routine runaway checking, if it is a small object. Among other things, we also deal with cleaning of the takeoff and landing runway, and other maneuvering areas in conditions when precipitation takes on – snow, slush, ice, freezing rain, and so on. We are at 100% ready at the moment – which means that we can act immediately. Not far from the garage and buildings where people and vehicles from the service for maintaining of the maneuvering areas are situated, there is a firefighting and emergency service which is ready to react every second, every day, every month and every year, without any breaks, in the shortest time possible. Their reaction is measured in seconds – to be completely ready, excellently trained and equipped, to take care throughout the airport, especially on the maneuvering areas, about any plane and all passengers who might be in trouble. – What is the most important, at a sign of emergency, we have 20 seconds to get out with the vehicles and arrive at the furthest point of the runaway in less than three minutes and to act with one goal – to rescue the passengers, crew members and the aircraft. We are in a non-stop training to do the best we can, and in shortest possible time. – To be ready at any time. – Yes, that’s right. One of our hosts took us to the airport tower where the dispatch center is located, which implements and realizes the schedule of flights, and in accordance with the data it receives from flight control, allocates, receives and dispatches planes, collects information to forward them to all services and to passengers on terminals, so that everyone is entitled to information about the time of arrival, departure or potential delays. All this, of course, resembles a dispatch center in any other traffic company, but people who work in this center say – thanks to the number of passengers, the size and complexity of means of transport, and the position at the state border, with a much larger number of information – they are doing a much more responsible and more complex job. From every position at the airport, we were aware of this particularly complicated aircraft ground handling, their reception and servicing at a terminal gate, which usually lasts from half an hour to an hour. Each of the airlines has its own specific requirements in that process. – These are services related to the reception and dispatch of the aircraft itself, so the plane has to be unloaded, loaded, supplied with fuel, catering, clean water, to create some documents, make a load list, that is our so-called “ramp handling”. If everything is not done according to the instructions and procedures at that parking position, the plane must not go further. The work of each person involved is extremely important – everything has to be done on time and so everything will function in the best possible way. All that is done by teams of people who have their own supervisor, a person who is responsible and who coordinates the work of people involved in the process, from luggage, food, fueling, to the work of flight attendants, to mention just a few of many jobs performed at the parking position of the aircraft. In this presentation of several important places at the airport, we do not show everything, not even close. There are many other facilities, many people and many services that care about everyone, and the smallest level of good functioning, carrying out complex procedures for safety and comfort of passengers, baggage and aircrafts, through precisely elaborated technological, rigorous procedures, with precise and modern technical equipment. Closely observing the detailed work of the main airport in Serbia, we see that it is a living organism. Its liveliness comes from the crowd of users and the complexity of jobs, but not only. The airport is alive also in its attempt to grow, to adapt to new conditions and more traffic that is coming in the near future. How does the airport evolve, and how it can be and how it should be better? – It was planned a new runaway to be built, but the new runway is an expensive facility, and it needs to be well analyzed, in general, how necessary is the second runway now. Because it all depends on the number of air operations per day. In 1989, when it was the largest volume of traffic, I recall the daily operational plan, there were 300 air operations per day. The number of airborne operations equals the number of landings and takeoffs together. Today, here the order of magnitude is 120 to 140 at the top. What we are currently doing is expanding the platforms, connecting the terminal C with the terminal A, so there is a significant increase in the throughput of the terminals, so the regularity of traffic is increasing to a much higher level. After several days spent at “Nikola Tesla Belgrade Airport”, we can hardly summarize all the impressions in a few minutes. This way, viewers cannot easily perceive all complexity, well-established jobs and procedures around the huge planes that are more and more numerous. Our crew did not fly from Belgrade this time. We hope that we will soon travel, but we return to the city from the main Serbian airport with this television story and an important feeling that, whenever we depart from this place, and whenever we return to it, the Belgrade airport will be run by a large trained team of people who will ensure that our journey is maximally reliable, accurate and safe.