Aviation Special Report
Our annual report on aviation trends. Written by Burns & McDonnell experts, these publications focus on issues impacting the industry.
Flexibility in aviation is more than how travelers get from one place to the next. It begins with board room decisions about whether to build, expand or renovate. The 2012 Aviation Special Report examines the ways Burns & McDonnell can instill critical flexibility in airport project planning, design and construction — because success is directly linked to the ability to adapt.
Articles In This Issue
Arrival and departure times fluctuate. Gates change. Flight plans alter. Tenant, airline, concession and airport staff come and go. Passengers check in and depart. Clearly, air travel requires adaptability.
Airport projects are often saddled with tight time and budget constraints. Or they may have a complex scope or difficult existing conditions. Projects like these can often reap benefits from the flexibility of design-build delivery, expediting the completion of a facility with efficiency and high quality.
When faced with aging terminal, airfield infrastructure or aviation support facilities, airport operators need to evaluate the available options to meet changing facility requirements. However, the challenges of aging infrastructure, airline consolidation and fierce competition for capital dollars can make even the best option a difficult implementation.
Creating adaptable terminal gates is key to the future of airports. Airlines and airports are being driven to increase efficiency and profitability, which results in fuller planes, shorter turnaround times, tighter gate space, and many ground support vehicles for onboard services accessing the aircraft at once.
Lines are still long. Belts and shoes still must be removed. Everyone from children to the elderly is still being patted down. Yet, the airport checkpoint is still not what it needs to be. In fact, International Air Transport Association (IATA) statistics show throughput remains low at 149 passengers per hour compared to a pre-9/11 high of 350 passengers per hour.
Big, clear-span, open-box designs are impressive, and, at first glance, seem very flexible. But while those large, open hangars might provide adequate space, they likely aren't providing the accessibility to aircraft you thought you'd be getting. A clear-span design is the single most significant hangar cost driver, and the return on investment may not pay off like you hope.
When a 10-year-old terminal designed for 175 flights per day is now serving 300 flights per day — challenging the delivery of high levels of customer service — terminal expansion is the next step. An expansion is also an opportunity to upgrade the services available by adding new food and retail vendors to give passengers a great travel experience. The Philadelphia International Airport and its partner airline, US Airways, are taking this approach for Terminal F.
Today's international airport construction programs are expanding in scope and complexity while being subjected to greater demands for expedited completion. At the same time, the economic environment is exerting greater pressure on owners to deliver these programs on time and within budget. This results in increased facilities management responsibilities for the owner while they are forced to manage their facility programs with reduced staff because of uncertain economic conditions.