With 39 million passengers passing through the Munich Airport departure and arrival gates every year, the flight information display system (FIDS) is a mission-critical piece of technology at the airport—and one that sorely needed updating.
The original analog FIDS had been in operation since the airport opened in 1992, representing arrival and departure information on multiple small LEDs. The system suffered from frequent LED failures, requiring a high level of IT maintenance and intervention to keep it operational, leading Munich Airport to search for a replacement solution that could reliably display flight arrival and departure information with minimal downtime.
“Munich Airport is an existing customer of InoNet,” says Benedikt Merl, marketing communications manager at systems integration company InoNet Computer GmbH. “We started building implementing the first digital flight information systems at the airport. This development has now culminated in the 72-display video wall at Munich Airport Center.”
InoNet had prior experience with Matrox M-Series graphics cards, which support up to eight displays from a single board at resolution up to 2560 x 1600 per screen. Using a Matrox M9148 quad-monitor and M9188 octal-monitor graphics card combination within six of Matrox’ Magnius-2 video wall controller systems, InoNet was able to power 72 NEC X463UN displays, each at 1080p full HD.
The displays are controlled in six groups of 12. With the display’s narrow 5.7mm bezel, a user-friendly viewing angle of 178 degrees was enabled, making each of the 72 displays completely visible from any front-viewing position. For added peace of mind, the displays have been specifically configured with a fail-safe feature to ensure continuous operation.
“The wall is constructed on top of the previous mounting system for the analogue LED flight information board,” says Merl. “The NEC displays are an ideal solution for this project where maintenance was to be kept at an absolute minimum.”
Meanwhile, all PCs boast Intel XEON CPU and 8GB of error correcting memory, thereby offering ample computing capacity to supply 12 monitors with HD images around the clock. Munich Airport now hosts one of the world’s largest flight information display systems in an 18 x 4, 72-monitor wall array. By switching to a digital FIDS running on a reliable video wall comprising large, full HD displays, more flights can be displayed in a clear and easy-to-read form.
“Our aim was to deliver a very clear image across all 72 displays,” says Susanne Gomez, key account manager at InoNet. “We don’t use daisy chaining to stretch the image across the wall, but rather supply each display individually with HD content. PCI Express cards by Matrox enabled us to realize this kind of installation under Windows 7 in a speedy and simple fashion.”
Not wanting to disrupt its normal service, the installation had to be conducted during the night, which saw the InoNet team work from 9:30 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. Another challenge presented itself when the team realized that the previous analog installation was mounted on a bearer system that they needed to use for the new video wall.
“This was tricky as the new wall is considerably wider that its predecessor. To support the new concept, we had to attach strong traverses to the existing bearer system,” says Merl.
A lockable cabinet can be found on top of the walkway where the construction is mounted which houses the PCs for easy access should the need arise for any maintenance, though compared with the previous system that should be minimal and less intrusive for the airport’s operations.
“I think that our favorite part of the install is the low maintenance approach to the whole project,” Merl says.