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Architecture: The Drive Through Airport Terminal  
User currently offlinejamesontheroad From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 541 posts, RR: 1
Posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 6 hours ago) and read 6336 times:

A friend forwarded this hypothetical design project to me. It's by Miklos Deri, a young architect who works between Vienna and Amsterdam.

The airport addresses the vast amount of space required for a modern airport terminal to facilitate aircraft movement. It proposes an alternative in which the entire terminal is raised above the ramp, and beneath which aircraft pass through a sequence of gates, one for arrivals, one for servicing and one for departures.

This hypothetical design drastically reduces the amount of ground area required for a major international airport.

http://drivethroughairport.wordpress.com/

I can already see a few problems with refuelling, fire hazards and the potential for one tech a/c to block an entire lane. What are your thoughts?

22 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinesrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 6 hours ago) and read 6253 times:

A good idea in theory, but executing it would be close to impossible as well as impractical. Looking at the renderings, parking a/c behind each other would be more likely to create delays, as what it the a/c parked at the front of the terminal has some sort of delay (crew is late, mechanical issue, catering issue, etc.)? The a/c parked behind it get delayed as well as a result. Not to mention safety concerns about jet blast, FOD being blown about that are lessened with the current design elements for terminal. Looking at the renderings, there would be little margin for error taxiing a/c through such a complex, plus if newer a/c have wingspans greater than what the clearance is for those areas, you render the drive-through aspect of the design useless.

User currently offlinerampart From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 3109 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 6 hours ago) and read 6236 times:

Amazing!

But...
I agree with you that a mishap in the queue screws up following aircraft.

What if vertical fins are too big?

How do transfers work?

-Rampart


User currently onlinepetertenthije From Netherlands, joined Jul 2001, 3353 posts, RR: 12
Reply 3, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 6039 times:

Would it not be a lot easier to put the terminal underground and the planes on top?


Attamottamotta!
User currently offlineByrdluvs747 From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2352 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 6005 times:

Quoting petertenthije (Reply 3):
Would it not be a lot easier to put the terminal underground and the planes on top?

Yuck. Nothing worse than spending a layover in a basement.   



The 747: The hands who designed it were guided by god.
User currently offlineVonRichtofen From Canada, joined Nov 2000, 4627 posts, RR: 36
Reply 5, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 5952 times:

How would containerized aircraft be offloaded/loaded?


Word
User currently offlinecheeken From Singapore, joined Feb 2010, 82 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 5869 times:

Also, different airlines sending planes to a certain airport may have varying turnaround times. Some reach there and turnaround in an hour to two, some sit there for half a day before flying back, all part of the airlines' strategies to catch certain timings at certain destinations, this isn't likely to work in this scenario.

User currently offlinepoLOT From United States of America, joined Jul 2011, 2129 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 3 hours ago) and read 5812 times:

Quoting rampart (Reply 2):
What if vertical fins are too big?

That is a big issue that the design completely avoids detailing. An A380 is 80 feet tall, a 747 is 63 ft tall, a 777 is just over 60 feet tall. You have to raise this eye sore of a building to around 100 feet in the air.

Their max passenger numbers are hopelessly optimistic too. They are so concerned about the space that planes take up they neglect the fact that there needs to be a lot of room in the terminal for all those people. The size comparison between LHR, AMS, and this concept with the number of passengers quoted is laughable. Having everybody in one big "mall area," as they suggest, is just going to be crowded, noisy, and confusing as passengers will be unsure of where they need to go when and will miss vital flight announcements.

[Edited 2012-06-24 09:40:34]

User currently offlinenighthawk From UK - Scotland, joined Sep 2001, 5127 posts, RR: 34
Reply 8, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 5586 times:

Its always good to see new concept designs, while this one presents a few issues which may not make it feasible, some of the ideas may find a use, and the idea itself may spark some ideas with other designers which may just be feasible.

Quoting srbmod (Reply 1):
as what it the a/c parked at the front of the terminal has some sort of delay (crew is late, mechanical issue, catering issue, etc.)?

I dont think the current idea of arrival processing happening at one gate, then moving forward to the next for boarding of departure passengers is going to work. The two need to be separated into different queues. Once a plane has de-boarded, it should be moved to a storage area, then join the boarding queue only when everyone is ready for it (crew, catering etc).

Quoting srbmod (Reply 1):
Not to mention safety concerns about jet blast, FOD being blown about that are lessened with the current design elements for terminal.

While the idea suggests a "drive through" system, there's no reason why this couldnt be automated. A conveyor belt system or a pulley system could be used to bring the aircraft into place. Even conventional airport tugs could be used. this eliminates any issues with jetblast.

Quoting srbmod (Reply 1):
plus if newer a/c have wingspans greater than what the clearance is for those areas, you render the drive-through aspect of the design useless.

I think this is the biggest failure with the design. Sure you can develop to accommodate the 80 metre box, which is standard with current generation aircraft, but there is no guarantee this will remain the case. With a standard terminal design you may need to re-jig a few stands. With this design, you need to pull down the entire terminal!

Quoting cheeken (Reply 6):
Also, different airlines sending planes to a certain airport may have varying turnaround times. Some reach there and turnaround in an hour to two, some sit there for half a day before flying back, all part of the airlines' strategies to catch certain timings at certain destinations, this isn't likely to work in this scenario.

There's no reason why an arriving plane must also depart immediately - simply skip the departure stage and move to a holding area, then return for boarding later.

Interesting concept, and it may prove sufficient for current generation aircraft, but it simply isnt flexible enough to cope with varying designs in future, and this alone makes it a non-starter.



That'll teach you
User currently offlinePHX787 From Japan, joined Mar 2012, 7233 posts, RR: 17
Reply 9, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 5554 times:

Quoting jamesontheroad (Thread starter):
I can already see a few problems with refuelling, fire hazards and the potential for one tech a/c to block an entire lane. What are your thoughts?

I would like to point out that MCI (Kansas City) attempted the "drive to your gate" design back in the 70s when TW had somewhat of a hub there. That failed quite quickly, as the security lines couldn't be established at every gate. TW begged K.C. to redesign the terminal and they didn't because it already cost them a lot of money, so TW moved to STL.

I don't think it's a good idea. Park in a centralized location, walk/tram to the ticketing area, do the security stuff, get to your gate, wait, board, fly. easy.



One of the FB admins for PHX Spotters. "Zach the Expat!"
User currently offlinezippyjet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 5478 posts, RR: 13
Reply 10, posted (2 years 1 month 1 week ago) and read 5400 times:

Cool idea: This could work for a commuter terminal with RJ's and turbo props. For large main line aircraft there could be challenges with fueling and the larger size of aircraft involved. Of course fuel tanks would have to be underground. This could also work with an airline such as WN with all 737 birds. The quick rapid turns but again fueling would have to be from underground tanks. And what about the idea of this design say with WN below but commuter operations/aircraft could be on top of the airport terminal. Just saying.


I'm Zippyjet & I approve of this message!
User currently offlinecloudboy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 807 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (2 years 1 month 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 5265 times:

I love new ideas, especially ones like this that think outside the box.

I guess I am missing, though, what exactly the problem is that they are trying to fix. It seems to me that the big cost function of an airport that is affected by layout is the cost of moving planes around. Thus, we have the multiple concourse model connected by an underground tram system. It provides some of the shortest distances on average that planes have to travel to reach their gates. It is far easier and cost effective to move the people instead.



"Six becoming three doesn't create more Americans that want to fly." -Adam Pilarski
User currently offlineRafabozzolla From Brazil, joined Apr 2000, 1213 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (2 years 1 month 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 4934 times:

Quoting nighthawk (Reply 8):
There's no reason why an arriving plane must also depart immediately - simply skip the departure stage and move to a holding area, then return for boarding later.

How would you do that if you happen to have arriving planes surrounding you on four sides?


User currently offlineContnlEliteCMH From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 1455 posts, RR: 44
Reply 13, posted (2 years 1 month 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 4819 times:

The front page of the website says this:

As a result, contemporary airport layouts are determined by vast parking spaces, where aircrafts are laid out endlessly side by side. Optimizing terminal buildings through densification requires a new concept.

The author claims that the issue with airports is largely geometric, that lining up aircraft side-by-side is the cause of all the problems and that by changing airport geometry, not only will less space be used, but that passenger throughput will be increased. The Prototype 1.0 tab proceeds to lay out the concept by explaining flow and throughput. What the author needs to do at this point is provide the size and scale of his design that can at least meet the current airport passenger load. But he never does this; instead, he uses a purely arbtrary throughput of 100 passengers per minute to justify his design.

The website says this on http://drivethroughairport.wordpress.com/prototype-1-0-2/ :


- 16 narrow-body DRIVE THROUGH ARRIVAL stations calculated by 100* arriving passengers per minute and
- 16 narrow-body DRIVE THROUGH DEPARTURE stations calculated by another 100* departing passenger leaving the airport at every minute at a daily peak service of 17h
(100pax arriving+100pax leaving each minute * 60 mins * 17h service * 360 days= 72 MAP (million annual passengers))


What validates the 100 pax/minute figures used here? Beyond the operational issues already discussed, the effectiveness and scalability of this idea rely upon this mythical throughput figure, but the real value is simply not known. What if it's not 100? Suppose the actual throughput, validated by modeling and testing, is 50 passengers per minute. In that case, the scale has to double. If the throughput is only 30, then it has to triple. Regardless, until/unless there is validation of this number, this design is an interesting idea, but the numbers pointing to its scale should be ignored.

Fortunately there is a way to see if the 100 passengers per minute number passes the sniff test. The link above also says that the plan's author assumed 250 seats per widebody and 100 seats per narrowbody. Assuming that a new airport designed per this idea is 100% widebody, the math works out as follows, using only enplanements or deplanements:

100 passengers per minute = one aircraft heading to the runway every 2.5 minutes. Since there are 16 lanes in the drive-thru airport, this means that the airport turns itself over 40 minutes. Stated another way, the author claims that a widebody servicing 250 passengers will be deplaned, serviced (including fueling, which itself can last 40 minutes or longer), emplaned, and released for takeoff in 40 minutes.

Is this believable? Well, today I flew DL CMH-ATL-MOB. Both segments were an MD-88. The turn in Columbus was about 40 minutes; the turn in ATL was a big longer due to crewing issues. (I had something happen to me today that I've never experienced: both segments were scheduled on the exactly same aircraft, at the same gate in ATL. What are the chances?) The MD-88 is a *lot* smaller than 250 seats and it has a *lot* less checked luggage than an international flight, for which widebodies are common. In order to accept the idea's merit, we must accept that current turn times are limited primarily by airport geometry and not by, say, the speed at which people walk onto or off an airplane, or how fast the fuel flows into its tanks, or how quickly the ramp rats can muscle baggage. Large airplanes take longer than 40 minutes to turn around because of human factors, and those factors are not dominated by airport geometry. Work takes time, and some work cannot be reduced no matter how you arrange the tasks.

Based on this analysis, it seems to me that 16 lanes are not nearly enough. This idea -- which is admittedly interesting -- needs to be bolstered by a properly vetted throughput number. I suspect that once everything were analyzed, it would be shown that this design offers relatively little advantage over current operations because current operations are not a victim of geometry. And the idea that this terminal design somehow is beneficial environmentally because it is physically smaller is odd, since such a design can't help the airplanes themselves burn less fuel aloft, or consume less fuel to/from the airport, or use less water flushing toilets, etc.



Christianity. Islam. Hinduism. Anthropogenic Global Warming. All are matters of faith!
User currently offlinenighthawk From UK - Scotland, joined Sep 2001, 5127 posts, RR: 34
Reply 14, posted (2 years 1 month 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 4640 times:

one additional point - in order to handle enough flights to carry 70m+ passengers, any airport is going to need two runways. To operate efficiently these two runways would need to be separated by 1,300m to allow simultaneous landings. This leaves quite a lot of land in between that cannot be used for much, other than airport operation related use. This is the area typically used by terminal and ramp space.

So while this new design might theoretically use up less space, there is very little you can do with this extra land. I think this is a solution in search of a problem.



That'll teach you
User currently offlinechristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 938 posts, RR: 8
Reply 15, posted (2 years 1 month 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 4464 times:

While I'll give the architect points for creativity, the design seems to show a lack of understanding of the business of servicing and turning around airplanes.

To move the aircraft from station to station requires securing it multiple times: pulling back loading bridges, removing ground equipment, closing doors. Having to repeat that process an additional two or three times per turnaround could increase ground time by at least ten minutes.

Another major design flaw is the assumption that planes are arriving and needing to be processed at a steady flow. Of course, that's not the way traffic at an airport necessarily works, for a variety of reasons.

Finally, the structure would be tremendously much more expensive to build. Less land would be used, yes, but the structure would be much more complicated.

Again, interesting mental exercise but not very practical.



Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
User currently offlineADent From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 1359 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (2 years 1 month 6 days ago) and read 2764 times:

I would hate to see this with an airplane on fire. People evacuating down the slides to the tarmac. Emergency vehicles trying to get into place. Concerns about the fire spreading to other planes. Evacuation of the terminal above.

User currently offlinerampart From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 3109 posts, RR: 6
Reply 17, posted (2 years 1 month 6 days ago) and read 2729 times:

Quoting ADent (Reply 16):
I would hate to see this with an airplane on fire. People evacuating down the slides to the tarmac. Emergency vehicles trying to get into place. Concerns about the fire spreading to other planes. Evacuation of the terminal above.

Same issue with any crowded airport, apart from the terminal overhead. I recall seeing designs from the 60's, which were the opposite -- very spread out, planes docked at remote satellites serviced by rail or shuttle buses. When land was plentiful.

Quoting ContnlEliteCMH (Reply 13):
And the idea that this terminal design somehow is beneficial environmentally because it is physically smaller is odd, since such a design can't help the airplanes themselves burn less fuel aloft, or consume less fuel to/from the airport, or use less water flushing toilets, etc.

I think it pertains more to land use and minimizing sprawl. Opposite of the 1960s example I gave above. Compact buildings are also more energy efficient.

-Rampart


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 19417 posts, RR: 58
Reply 18, posted (2 years 1 month 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 2665 times:

Quoting nighthawk (Reply 8):
I think this is the biggest failure with the design. Sure you can develop to accommodate the 80 metre box, which is standard with current generation aircraft, but there is no guarantee this will remain the case. With a standard terminal design you may need to re-jig a few stands. With this design, you need to pull down the entire terminal!

Not only that, but you want to design an 80m span between two adjacent sets of columns? That's a big, long span, given that you have to hold up two or three floors of terminal. That's a heck of a structural engineering problem. Do you put the supports inside the terminal building? Under it (and reducing clearance)? What about in an earthquake zone?


User currently offlinerampart From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 3109 posts, RR: 6
Reply 19, posted (2 years 1 month 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 2621 times:

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 18):
you want to design an 80m span between two adjacent sets of columns? That's a big, long span, given that you have to hold up two or three floors of terminal.


   Good point.
That's the span of an arena roof, where the outside structure supports only... the roof. Not 3+ floors of terminal.

I suppose an architect might figure it's doable (and then the structural engineer will do the requisite cursing of the architect)


User currently offlinesrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (2 years 1 month 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 2448 times:

Quoting PHX787 (Reply 9):
I would like to point out that MCI (Kansas City) attempted the "drive to your gate" design back in the 70s when TW had somewhat of a hub there. That failed quite quickly, as the security lines couldn't be established at every gate. TW begged K.C. to redesign the terminal and they didn't because it already cost them a lot of money, so TW moved to STL.

I believe you're confusing concepts here. The concept as being discussed in the thread is regarding aircraft, not cars.


User currently offlinePHX787 From Japan, joined Mar 2012, 7233 posts, RR: 17
Reply 21, posted (2 years 1 month 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 2426 times:

Quoting srbmod (Reply 20):
I believe you're confusing concepts here. The concept as being discussed in the thread is regarding aircraft, not cars.

My mistake, i must have misread the concept.

I do see how parking aircraft, especially widebodies could be huge issues.

Could they ever design something that could lift smaller aircraft up to higher levels of the terminal? Not sure how else to explain it



One of the FB admins for PHX Spotters. "Zach the Expat!"
User currently offlineRamblinMan From United States of America, joined Oct 2010, 1138 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (2 years 1 month 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 2079 times:

Quoting nighthawk (Reply 14):
So while this new design might theoretically use up less space, there is very little you can do with this extra land. I think this is a solution in search of a problem.

My thoughts exactly. Look at sat photos of any large airport...the amount of space taken up by the terminal is insignificant compared to the size of the airfield.

I can see a limited use for this sort of thing in a smaller inner-city commuter type airport like LCY but nothing more.


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