Dubai Airport lines up for final approach

The expansion of Dubai International Airport is expected to cater for 70 million passengers per year when it is completed in 2007. And that is not the only impressive statistic associated with the development. Zoe Naylor passed through heavy security to witness one of the largest projects in Dubai get ready for take-off.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  September 23, 2006

|~|138proj200.gif|~|The tapered structure of Concourse Two is taking shape and is due to be completed in 2007. The US $1 billion fit-out contract on the structure is being carried out by a joint venture of Al Habtoor, Murray and Roberts and Takenaka.|~|Measuring 1km from end to end and with 20,000 labourers at work on its mammoth structure, the Dubai International Airport expansion is currently one of the biggest construction jobs in town. From what was a massive hole in the ground just a few months ago is now emerging the finished structure of the new concourse and terminal buildings.

This second phase of the airport expansion project will provide facilities to accommodate Dubai’s growing airport traffic and is expected to cater for over 70 million passengers when completed next year. The project is made up of various elements. Firstly, there is Terminal Three (T3), an underground structure measuring approximately 532,000m2 comprising two public levels and three service and administration levels.

Built from reinforced concrete, T3 comprises six levels, the deepest of which is around 20m underground. These floors will house services such as the baggage handling facilities, arrivals, booking halls and plant rooms. Concourse Two (C2) is a partial continuation of the underground T3 structure. This steel structure extends five floors above ground and is topped with a metal roof. It will accommodate 27 aircraft stands, five of which are designated for Airbus A-380s.

The ground floor of C2 will be for arrivals and the first floor will be for departures. The structure also includes a duty free area, a dedicated floor for First and Business class passengers as well as two hotels. C2’s building shell has
an elliptical profile with tapering ends. Its footprint is 924m long by 90.8m wide, with a built-up area measuring approximately 670,000m2. There will also be a 257,000m2 open air car park structure.
The total area of C2, T3, and the car park combined is approximately 1,459,000m2.

Al Nadoodah Laing O’Rourke (main contractor for this overall phase of the project) completed the infrastructure for C2 and T3 at the end of 2005, after which time it handed the project over to the fit out contractor. HMRT (the joint venture of Al Habtoor, Murray and Roberts, and Takenaka) is carrying out the US $1 billion (AED3.6 billion) fit out of C2, T3 and the car park. “The fit out contract was awarded to HMRT in December 2004 and is due for completion in mid-2007,” says Barry Hand, senior construction manager, Murray and Roberts.

The fit out is just one of the many packages that are underway. Al Abbar is doing the external façade, the structural steel is being done by Cleveland Bridge and Thyssen Krupp is doing the lifts, passenger walkways and escalators. Siemens is installing the baggage handling system and Thermo is carrying out the MEP works. Overall consultant on the project is Dar Al Handasah.

According to Hand, the HMRT team is about halfway through the fit out stage: “We’ve almost finished the wet trades, the hard finishes such as the granite are progressing well, and the ceilings have started. The MEP works are also well underway.”

Hand says that it’s the sheer scale of the project rather than any particular construction process that is the significant challenge. “The major challenges with this project come with the logistics, safety and sheer volume.” Firstly, there are the massive dimensions of the airport expansion: C2, for example, is around the same size as the existing concourse (around 1km from end to end) and at its highest point it is around 100m. The main difference is that the new terminal part of the expansion (T3) will feature six underground levels.
The five gates that will be capable of handling the A-380 aircraft require double-height rotundas (the round structures that attach the plane to the walkway, which then connects to the terminal).

Then there is the vast 24-hour labour force that needs to be coordinated: “We have around 20,000 labourers on site at the moment. This is due to peak at around 22,000 during October and November,” says Hand. One of the main challenges is managing these thousands of workers who need to be bussed to and from the site each day. “There’s no way we could have all of our HMRT guys turning up to site at the same time as Thermo’s MEP guys, for example, so all the start times have to be staggered very carefully. The same goes for lunch and tea breaks.” There is around 15,000m2 of welfare facilities on site, including rest and eating areas for the labourers and cold drinking water stations.

Another challenge, according to Hand, is coordinating the delivery of materials to site: “We have materials coming in from all over the world, so getting them in and out of site is a challenge.” For example, there is approximately 2 million m3 of scaffolding currently on site as well as five million blocks.

“We even have someone employed on site just to look after the delivery of containers,” continues Hand. “We have maybe 300 or 400 containers delivered per month so we need to make sure that they are all parked where they should be and that containers with perishable materials in are not parked in the sun.

When completed, phase two of the airport expansion will link in with the existing passenger and crew facilities. “We’ve made provisions for the existing T2 to eventually connect to the new C3 via a sky train,” says Hand. There will also be a service tunnel that will go from T3, underneath Airport Road and connect to the new Emirates Headquarters building. This will be used solely by the Emirates flight crew. And there will eventually be a Metro station built within basement level two of the car park in C2, which will be on the Red Line.

When fully operational, phase two of the Dubai International Airport expansion will massively increase the passenger handling capacity of the airport. Despite numerous logistical challenges and a tight construction deadline, the project team once again shows why Dubai is a world leader when it comes to innovative projects.||**||

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