CEM Case Study - Gatwick Airport

CEM Case Study - Gatwick Airport Access Control Solution

CEM Systems

Handling over 34 million passengers per year travelling to around 200 destinations in 90 countries, Gatwick Airport is the UK’s second largest airport.

CEM Systems airport specific access control solution, AC2000 AE (Airport Edition) provides Gatwick Airport with a fully comprehensive security solution.

Gatwick Airport has been using the CEM AC2000 AE system for more than 16 years, providing the airport with a flexible security solution to meet its unique and changing security needs and demands as the airport continues to grow.


Of the many global airports using the AC2000 AE system, Gatwick Airport more than most illustrates the systems comprehensive capabilities, resilience and true flexibility in its ability to be tailored to meet customer needs.

Since its initial installation, CEM has worked with Gatwick to develop the system in response to its changing needs and to offer more than simply an access control solution. Over the years, functionality has been added to the system in response to changing legislation in the aviation industry and as the airport expanded.

Today, the system provides an integrated business solution that is continuously developed to help Gatwick Airport operate more efficiently.


£100 million Pier 6 Extension

One of more recent developments at Gatwick Airport includes an extension of the system to cover the Pier 6 development. Gatwick’s Pier 6 is a £100 million project that provides vital extra pier service at the airport’s North Terminal.

The Pier 6 project at Gatwick created a satellite building providing 11 pier served aircraft stands and includes the largest air passenger bridge crossing an airfield in the world. Standing at 197m long and 32m high, the bridge spans the runway allowing aircraft the size of a Boeing 747-400 to pass underneath, with travelators and walkways in both directions, and a glazed façade giving passengers unique and spectacular views across the airfield.

CEM Hardware

The CEM AC2000 AE system has been expanded to include an additional 260 CEM S600 card readers to provide access control and  monitoring at Pier 6 including control of common use passenger lifts, covering four levels of the Pier including an arrivals level and departures level.

Using special door operation modes available with the S600 reader, lift operation to the Gate Rooms will be linked so that if the Gate Room S600 reader is in Departures Mode, the associated lifts will go to Departures Mode, ensuring the lift parks itself at the departures level for use by departing passengers only.

Likewise if the reader status is changed to Arrivals Mode the reader signals the Lift Controller to Arrivals Mode ensuring the lift parks itself at the Arrivals level for use by arriving passengers. With the Pier 6 extension the installed CEM AC2000 AE system now includes almost 1000 card readers and almost 80,000 operational cardholders.

Gatwick’s Sustainable Development Strategy
The Pier 6 project forms part of Gatwick’s Sustainable Development Strategy to manage environmental impacts.

“The CEM AC2000 AE system assists with Gatwick’s strategy for energy conservation by allowing us to enable equipment such as  Escalators and Heat Curtains only when they are required.” said Kim Hayler, Access Control Services Manager at Gatwick. “When the Gate Room reader is enabled for Arrivals Mode, as well as controlling the Lifts, it also enables the Escalator in readiness for arriving passengers. This ensures that when the Gate Room is not in use the escalator is automatically shut down for energy conservation,” according to Hayler.

Estimated to have accommodate 3.5 million passengers in its first full year of operation, the pier has greatly reduced coach movements, used to transport passengers between the North Terminal and aircraft stand, reducing fuel emissions and ground noise on the airfield.

Airbridge Control

As well as controlling and monitoring staff and passenger movement the AC2000 system at Gatwick also allows for control and monitoring of loading bridges.

The system has been designed to reduce maintenance costs and control the use of loading bridges. There had been concern that it was difficult to track the use and status of air bridges throughout the airport, with growing maintenance costs due to damage. To address this, the AC2000 AE system was developed to link a loading bridge to a CEM S600 card reader. Before the bridge can be used, the driver must make a valid swipe on the CEM reader.

Besides controlling who is using the air bridges, the system provides an immense amount of data for reporting. Resulting information includes a list of air bridges, with the number of faults for each bridge, as well as the number of each type of fault over time. The airport knows the hours of operation for each air bridge as well as how long each air bridge has been in maintenance, standby or fault. A list of operators with their number of faults is also provided.

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