- Airport Gate Enhancement
The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) determined O’Hare International Airport would need to accommodate Airbus A380 aircraft flights beginning summer 2016 — a 15-month deadline. This required immediate enhancements and renovations to O’Hare International Terminal 5 to service the aircraft’s large size and dual decks for passenger traffic. The design and construction of the gate enhancement, at one of the nation’s busiest airports, also had to work around the airport’s ongoing air traffic schedule.
The airport selected our team to manage the planning, design and construction administration for the terminal, gate and airside facility. Drawing on previous experience designing similar A380 aircraft gate upgrades at several U.S. airports, the solution included dual jet bridge access capable of reaching both upper and lower flight decks with a fixed walkway extension to relocated gates. The terminal was designed to accommodate increased passenger traffic while maintaining current levels of service and security.
To support the fast-track schedule, an early bid package was developed to procure the fixed walkway and passenger boarding bridge (PBB) equipment, which require long lead times for fabrication and delivery. The team developed specifications to address the unique features and requirements of PBBs designed to service the upper level doors, such as collision avoidance systems, enhanced vertical and horizontal drive systems, stabilization mechanisms and higher wind load design parameters.
Intricate geometric analysis of aircraft and PBB positioning was necessary to retrofit an existing gate for larger aircraft and more bridges without negatively impacting ground service operations, equipment storage or operations at adjacent gates. This incorporated simulations of PBB horizontal and vertical range of motion, aircraft sill heights, column lift heights, cab angles, bridge slopes, proximity to other bridges, aircraft maneuvering into and out of the gates, fuel pit locations, and several other aircraft servicing functions. The final design also included new Preconditioned Air (PCA) units, new 400-hertz equipment, relocated and new Visual Aircraft Docking Systems, and hydrant fuel pit installation and modification.
The construction phasing reduced modification to the existing structure while keeping passenger disruption to a minimum. The average construction submittal turnaround time was less than five days, while the team worked closely with CDA to coordinate simultaneous construction efforts. Additional features included pavement and underground utilities, terminal building reconfigurations, and new and relocated passenger boarding bridges and fixed walkways.
In July 2016, O’Hare International Airport welcomed its first commercial A380 flight with an enhanced Terminal 5 gate — completed under budget and within the 15-month deadline.
- 4 separate construction initiatives
- Less than 5 days average turnaround on all submittals
- More than 500 passengers accommodated on dual bridges