Role of the Master Systems Integrator (MSI) – Guideline

Role of the Master Systems Integrator (MSI) – Guideline

The role of Master Systems Integrator (MSI) on airport projects is one of the most misunderstood terms.

From the owners point of view the MSI is the one who makes everything work holistically;

From the designer’s point of view, they MSI clean up all the interfaces or at least makes the interfaces work (even though the specifications are unclear).

From the main contractors point of view, the MSI is a necessary function (but they really don’t know what he/she/they do… ‘Hogwarts’?); and

From the MSI point of view, it is nice to have on the reference list, ‘we won the MSI role on job XXXXX’, and then the MSI spends a significant amount of time clarifying scope, defining roles and responsibilities, and continuing to be asked to reduce their price or expected to spend money that the Specifications had Gaps in.

Airport Systems

An airport is an interesting place, airports have shopping malls, hotels, car parks, restaurants, police station, fire station, customs offices, immigration offices, and various other entities you would have in a small city. Supporting all these airport ‘inhabitants’ they have fire alarm systems, public address systems, building services systems, security systems, power management systems, lighting control systems, lifts, escalators, moving walkways and others . Other city services include mobile telephone services and ‘hot spots’ as a service to travellers and staff.

AND – of course they have all the airport related elements, airline offices, airline lounges, baggage handling systems, loading bridges, fuel systems, airport taxiway lighting, runway lighting, a weather stations, public displays, check in equipment, and many others.

SO – to build an airport requires over 50 systems that have some form of information technology component. The owner now has to decide how all of these will plug together, after all they are all computer Information Technology Systems. Right!

Even information technology companies have several methods to accomplish their integration requirements.

Why – most companies forget to consider why they want integration, they just know they should have it because everybody else has it. Companies should consider the benefits of integration; cost, performance, security, time, future proofing, etc.

Airports need to take advantage of all the benefits but that does not mean ‘throwing all the eggs in one basket’.


Just because systems can be integrated does not mean they have to be. Integration should be focused on achieving benefits which are measurable. If the benefits are measurable, then they can be cost justified.

Systems Integration Architecture (SIA) – There are various methods of integrating systems;

  1. Vertical integration / Discipline integration puts systems serving a common function in a group.
  2. Horizontal integration / Multi-Discipline integration puts all systems in one basket.
  3. Star / Spaghetti integration connects all systems to each of the remaining systems.
  4. A Network Integration that connects everybody on the same network fabric (Cable and Routers), sub networks (VLANS) are implemented.
  5. Low Level Integration is a field unit integration approach (typically a Building Management System, Fire Alarm and Security System).
  6. Dedicated Network puts only the system or group in the network (typically for Police, Customs and Immigration).
  7. Database Integration makes each systems database compatible with the other systems databases.
  8. Information Broker integration makes provides the Application Program Interface (API) that provides the common messaging format, protocol, database translations, etc.

How – Actually, systems integration within an airport is relatively straightforward.

I would suggest the following.

1.Step 1 – Identify all systems being implements at your given airport.

2.Step 2- Group the systems into common and \ or complementary functions

3.Step 3 – Identify which systems have confidential or highly sensitive information.

4.Step 4 – Identify which systems have no useful integration benefits.

5.Step 5 – Put all the findings in a cost / benefit matrix

6.Step 6 – Prepare your systems integration strategic plan

7.Step 7 – Use the systems integration strategic plan to guide your design consultants prepared in the Specifications.


I would suggest for an airport, the following results for step 1-4 above, and the type of integration from the Systems Integration Architecture (SIA) items 1-7).

  1. Airport Systems will generally be Group Integrated
  2. Airport Systems will have all forms of SIA

Determine what kind of MSI to use.

Assuming you have completed step 8 (How -What groups) –

General Example – My Thoughts

  • Building Services Group – SIA 1, 4, 7 and 8 (Vertical Integration, Network Integration, Database Integration and Information Broker)
  • Security Services Group – SIA 1, 4, 7 and 8
  • Fire Services Group – SIA 1, 5, 6, 7
  • Check in Services – SIA 1, 4, 7, and 8
  • Customs Services – SIA 1, 6
  • Immigration Services – SIA 1, 6
  • Police Services – SIA 1, 6
  • Network Services – SIA 1, 2, and 4
  • Airport Operational Database / Information Broker – SIA 2, 4, 7 and 8
  • Public Telephone (GSM) – SIA 6

Master Systems Integrator – Will NOT be a subsystem provider. This will be a role of integration of the Sub-systems. The main role of the MSI is to represent the Client.

Until all subcontractors have been selected it is not possible to fully define the system integration requirements (detail level). The MSI will help to resolve these issues.

The MSI will generally provide:

1.Prepare and Update the System Integration Master Plan

2.Prepare and Update the Information Technology Master Plan

3.Prepare and Update the Network Services Master Plan

4.Review and Approve submissions of the various Sub-System Integrators

5.Review and Resolve integration technical disputes

6.Review and Approve System and Site Integration QA Documentation

7.Prepare and Update the Site System Integration Master Plan

Sub-System Integrator – the Contractor providing the systems will be responsible for their own integration.

This is a quick overview of the Master Systems Integration function. Obviously there is a lot more that could be written on this subject and perhaps differing opinions. If you would like more on the subject, contact me.

Baggage Handling System

Baggage Handling System

The Baggage Handling System (BHS) provides the automatic handling and sorting of passenger’s checked-in baggage to the correct baggage make-up area for a particular flight. The mechanical components typically consists of check-in conveyors, collecting conveyors, transport conveyors, transfer conveyors, sorters, make-up conveyors or chutes, make-up carousels and reclaim conveyors and carousels.

The electrical components typically consist of the Sorting and Allocation Computer (SAC), the Management Information Control System computer (MICS), and the control system components including Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), Automatic Tag Readers (ATR), and various other sensors and control components.

The major integration for the BHS system is to the Hold Baggage Screening system (HBS). This is the security screening components that may provide up to 4 levels of automatic inline screening of the baggage as it passes through the BHS conveyor system. As the HBS requires a high degree of integration and co-ordination with the BHS system it is common that the supply of the HBS package is part of the BHS contractors scope. The major issue with the integration of the HBS and BHS is to ensure that the design facilitates a security screening process that will meet the requirements of FAA for certified operation.

The BHS also integrates with the Common Use Terminal Equipment (CUTE) to obtain the baggage services messages (BSM) from the airlines; the Flight Information Display System (FIDS) or Airport Operational Database (AODB) to obtain the flight information to enable the SAC computer to do the make-up carousel or lateral allocation; and may integrate with the Security System to provide information for bags which fail the automatic screening process.











Executive Information System

Executive Information System


These are essential systems and very often they are overlooked on an airport.

An Executive Information System (EIS) is a decision support system (DSS) used in organizations to help executives in their decision making process. It does so by providing easy access to important data needed in an organization to achieve strategic goals or react in case of an emergency. An EIS has a graphical presentation on a user-friendly windows interface on a PC, Tablet or Smart Phone.

Executive information systems can be used for monitoring company performance in many different areas of the business, as well as for identifying opportunities and problems.

Current EIS data is available on local area networks (LANs) throughout the company or enterprise, facilitated by personal computers and workstations. Directors and Senior Management can access company data to help make decisions in their workplaces, departments, divisions, etc.

Executive support systems are intended to be used directly by senior managers to support unscheduled strategic management decisions. Often such information is external, unstructured and even uncertain. Often, the exact scope and context of such information are not known in advance.

This information contained on the EIS should be readily available and is based on data gathered via systems integration and the Airport Operational Database.

Executive Information System-Key Characteristics

  • Detailed data – EIS provides absolute data from its existing database.
  • Integrate external and internal data – EIS integrates integrate external and internal data. The external data collected from various sources.
  • Presenting information – EIS represents available data in graphical form which helps to analyze it easily.
  • Trend analysis – EIS helps executives of the organizations to data prediction based on trend data.
  • Easy to use – It is a very simplest system to use.

Advantages of EIS

  • Trend Analysis
  • Improvement of corporate performance in the marketplace
  • Development of managerial leadership skills
  • Improves decision-making
  • Simple to use by senior executives
  • Better reporting method
  • Improved office efficiency

Disadvantage of EIS

  • Due to technical functions, not to easy to use by everyone
  • Executives may encounter overload of information
  • Difficult to manage database due to the large size of data
  • Excessive costs for small business organizations

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

There are over 70 IT based systems installed in a new, large international Airport

Many of these airports have complex data networks and associated Gigabit Backbone Network, Operational Database and an Information Broker.

We will be discussing these systems, showing examples and providing technical narratives about them on this site.

Having more than 40 Airport Systems experience, I am glad to share my knowledge with all of you involved in this very exciting industry.

I will be preparing some interesting technical articles on Aiport Systems. If you are interested in some specific topic please let me know.

Here is my list of systems – Did I mss anything?

  1. Access Control System
  2. Advanced Surface Movement Guidance & Control System
  3. Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunication Network
  4. Air Traffic Control System
  5. Air Traffic Management System
  6. Airfield Lighting System
  7. Airport Operational Database
  8. Apron Floodlighting System
  9. ATM System
  10. Automated People Mover System
  11. Aviation Fuel with Leak Detection System
  12. Baggage Handling System
  13. Baggage Reconciliation System
  14. Building Management System
  15. Car Park Management System
  16. Carry on Baggage Screening
  17. Closed Circuit Television System
  18. Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS)
  19. CUTE / CUPPS
  20. Departure Control System
  21. Emergency Telephone System
  22. Executive Information System
  23. Explosive Detection System
  24. Facility Management System
  25. Flight Information Display System
  26. Financial Systems
  27. Fire Alarm System
  28. Fixed Ground Power / 400 Hz
  29. Gate Allocation System
  30. Gigabit Network
  31. Ground Transportation System
  32. Hold Baggage Screening
  33. Host LAN / Backbone Gigabit Network
  34. Information Network
  35. Kiosk System
  36. Lighting Control System
  37. Master Antennae System
  38. Master Electric Clock System
  39. MATV System
  40. MET Systems
  41. Network Management System
  42. ORAT
  43. Passenger Loading Bridge
  44. Passenger Screening System
  45. Perimeter Detection System
  46. Power Distribution and Control System
  47. Pre-Conditioned Air
  48. Public Address System
  49. Ramp Management System
  50. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System
  51. Security System
  52. Structured Cabling System
  53. Surface Movement Radar System
  54. Systems Integration
  55. Taxiway Lighting
  56. Telephone System
  57. Trunk Radio System
  58. Visual Docking and Guidance System