Belinda Quijano
Director General
Apollo Communications
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View from the Top

Making AIFA a World-Class Airport

By Pedro Alcalá | Wed, 03/23/2022 - 10:24

Q: How would you describe the initial stages of Apollo’s involvement with International Airport Felipe Ángeles (AIFA) and the services it provided?

A: We began our involvement with the project at an early stage in 4Q19. We began working on telecommunications and automation technology for fuel terminals on both the military and civilian sides of the airport’s facilities. Apollo’s experience in these applications is extensive. Our work then expanded to include the terminals’ leak detection and emergency stop functions, SCADA and control systems, as well as the terminal management systems. 

Apollo was then invited to get involved in the airport’s security systems due to our previous experience in security-focused telecommunications, including access point control, CCTV systems and cybersecurity. As the project evolved, we forged significant alliances with other companies like Amadeus and Vision-Box, which provide a different range of services. Through these partnerships, we could add a new kind of value. These companies had an approach that matched global standards but they lacked knowledge on the specificity of the Mexican market, which we could readily provide. The technologies that these companies provided are unique in Mexico. Therefore, our contributions to AIFA are groundbreaking. 

We also became heavily involved in the project management of AIFA’s passenger terminal. This entailed coordinating the efforts of contractors working on different modalities to achieve connectivity, security and cybersecurity standards. We also managed the Master System Integrator (MSI) work. The military engineers leading the AIFA project contracted different systems from various sources, which had to ultimately converge. An MSI is necessary to create a seamless connection so that the systems are integrated properly. It was an incredibly educational challenge for us to overcome.   

Q: How can a strong cybersecurity strategy support the aviation industry in its economic recovery process?

A: It is not only the aviation companies at AIFA that worry about cybersecurity, which is a delicate subject and of immense importance to all the project’s stakeholders. On the one hand, the safety and security of passengers are paramount, particularly in terms of their personal data throughout the boarding process. On the other hand, cybersecurity is also a strategic matter of national interest, particularly given AIFA’s proximity to Mexico City. Our tools and technologies need to be integrated considering all appropriate processes and policies to ensure that the flow of passenger data is shielded and controlled. Without that peace of mind for passengers, AIFA will simply not be successful. Fortunately, the most state-of-the-art technology available in this category has been implemented at AIFA. 

Q: How did your role at AIFA create a springboard for the projects you will focus on in 2022?

A: AIFA has been a fantastic experience. We witnessed the incredible performance of all the military engineers involved in the project and who were able to complete this project in record time. The sheer progress accomplished each week was unbelievable. It was a valuable learning experience to adapt to this speed. Many international companies that came to work at AIFA observed that much of the work completed in eight months usually would take as much as two years, yet they saw no differences in quality or standards.

While AIFA is scheduled to begin its operations on March 21, the airport’s operational capacities will be increased gradually, as more airlines arrive and schedule more flights. We will be involved in this process and want to continue to be partners in this project, not simply end our involvement because all the relevant technologies have been successfully implemented. We expect to provide support services for at least the next two years, although of course 2022 will be crucial. The project will have much to prove and will need to make adjustments during the year of its launch. 

Our involvement in AIFA has opened new verticals for the company. We must be conscious of how our journey motivates us to invest in the hiring and developing of new talent and the strengthening of our capabilities. We expect transport infrastructure to become a larger part of our portfolio, as we capitalize on the efforts we made for AIFA. This includes planning regarding upcoming projects, such as the announced Tulum airport. Our capabilities are now fully aligned with what such a project might need. We want to continue adding value to these public projects, including to the Mayan Train.

Q: How are automation, IoT and other vanguard technologies playing a larger role in these upcoming projects?

A: Our work in AIFA’s fuel terminal was quite robust in terms of digitalization. The terminal can operate in a fully automated modality while being completely compliant with all existing norms and regulations. Our partnerships with Amadeus and Vision-Box have aligned us with global standards and expectations in various technological categories, which became exponentially more relevant during the pandemic and the resulting redesign of the passenger experience. What is more, we have strengthened our existing partnerships with global leaders in telecommunications and cybersecurity, such as Cisco, Rockwell Automation, Nozomi Networks and CyberArk.

 

Apollo Communications is a Mexican telecommunications and digital security company that focuses primarily on oil and gas. It is one of the most experienced cybersecurity companies in the country.

Pedro Alcalá Pedro Alcalá Senior Journalist & Industry Analyst