How It Works: Revamping Aircraft Parking Layouts
How It Works: Revamping Aircraft Parking Layouts
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How It Works: Revamping Aircraft Parking Layouts
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Airline gates are more complicated than you may think, and revamping aircraft parking layouts requires planning and coordination among different project teams to achieve maximum flexibility at the gate.

Airline passengers tend to think of aircraft gates simply as where they board their plane. The reality is more complicated. Success in revamping aircraft parking layouts at the gate requires careful planning and coordination.

Burns & McDonnell heads a team revamping aircraft parking layouts for United Airlines at Newark Liberty International Airport. There, changes are being made to accommodate United's new aircraft fleet mix, which includes wingspans modified through the use of winglets. Maximizing flexibility of the aircraft parking layout at the gate also requires modifying ramp services such as hydrant fueling, preconditioned air and ground power.

Using special software, planners compare possible layouts of aircraft positions. After the layout is determined, each gate is individually redesigned, possibly with a combination of fixed walkways and one of several types of passenger boarding bridges. Fueling hydrants are relocated to support the new positions. Pavement is rehabilitated, and in some cases, added to extend ramps. At Newark Liberty, to squeeze the maximum aircraft positions from the available ramp space, some preconditioned air units were moved to rooftops, with telescoping ductwork connecting them to the aircraft.

The complexities of gate revamping don't end with design. Construction must be phased around the ongoing operations of a busy airport. At Newark Liberty, work is scheduled so as to affect a limited number of gates at one time. Close communication with the client allows United to continue flights and related operations out of adjacent gates.

"In our role as prime architect-engineer, Burns & McDonnell is able to bring expertise in several highly specialized areas to this project," says New York regional office manager Martin Durney. "The skill sets we have in fueling and boarding bridges — both real specialties — are impressive."

For more information, contact Martin Durney, 973-526-5308.

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