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Underground terminal buildings?

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Underground terminal buildings?

Old 29th Jul 2011, 07:46
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Underground terminal buildings?

I was involved in a recent discussion which included the idea that passenger terminals could be built undergound with some sort of retractable escalator to take the passengers up/down to/from the aircraft.

The thoughts were that with aircraft parking on the roof they would never need to be pushed back and could probably be parked much closer together than they are now.

Hmmmm...... I guess someone tried it somewhere?
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 08:10
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In theory, yes. But no natural light, like a bunker? I don't think it'd go favorable with passengers.
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 08:10
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Would the additional cost of building the terminal substantially under ground rather than above ground outweigh the benefits of a need for a smaller area of land ? Perhaps something more suited to an airport very close to a city centre where land prices are particularly high ?

In addition, how would the general passengers react ?
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 08:15
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JSCL, they seem to adapted to no natural light in tube/underground/metro stations so I dont think that would be a killer.
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 08:16
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But tubes are quick trips, sitting inside a bunker with the kids on a family holiday for 2-4 hours?

It'd need to be strong, planes parking about you? It's a nice idea, but I doubt it's practicality.
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 08:19
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Underground places do not need to feel like a concrete bunker - there are ample examples of underground shopping malls where the front-of-house areas look very presentable
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 08:23
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davidjohnson6, the discussion concluded it would save a lot of land, not only the area usually occupied by the terminal building but also a lot saved in apron and manouvring space.

Besides, think of all the spare dirt they would have to dump in the harbour to 'make' even more land!
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 08:24
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It sounds very expensive to me, think of the engineering required to support the weight of aircraft driving over the top of the terminal, also the safety issues (leaks of fuel, oil, sewage etc.) and the potential for a fire right above the terminal.

It's a novel solution to a problem which I didn't even know existed! But I think it would be cheaper and more aesthetically pleasing if, in stead, the gates were raised creating more of a "drive through" scenario.
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 08:24
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JSCL, crikey, you make it sound almost as bad as the flight!
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 08:27
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WW, a drive through terminal building? Not such a silly idea at all, they could have passenger facilities above the aircraft and refueling, freight, baggage handling, sanitation etc below the aircraft.
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 09:22
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Relative to the level of the ramp, the airside spaces of PIK are basically below ground level (built that way to avoid the jet blast of early jets). There are still a few open air courtyard spaces with neglected plants in them, but they're no longer accessible to passengers. Otherwise it's a pretty dingy place - natural light through a few skylights help, but not being able to see outside is psychologically not good for any building occupant. There was, for example, some compelling research done (IIRC) at the University of Sheffield about ten years ago that proved to the NHS that patients get better quicker (and therefore occupy hospital beds for less time) if they have a view out of the building. Ideally that view should be out onto a street, car pack, service yard - anything that lets them see the day to day routines of life passing by.
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 11:18
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A good proportion of Dubai Terminal 3 (and 1) is underground linking the entrance to the overground structure with the airbidges. It allows for the overground section of the terminal building to have airbridgs on both sides.
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 20:35
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Interesting idea. After all the average departure lounge these days might as well be in a bunker. Shops and other concessions take up every inch of wall space, and windows don't earn any cash!

I wonder if there might be a safety problem though, if an aircraft 'upstairs' had a fuel leak and/or fire then things might get interesting for the pax waiting below.
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Old 30th Jul 2011, 08:33
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Originally Posted by GavinC View Post
A good proportion of Dubai Terminal 3 (and 1) is underground linking the entrance to the overground structure with the airbidges. It allows for the overground section of the terminal building to have airbridgs on both sides.
This is a feature elsewhere. Los Angeles Architects Pereira & Associates came up with it for LAX in 1960, although much has been rebuilt since. St Petersburg, Russia, domestic terminal is the same.

Underground structures however are challenging (ie expensive) for the architecture. Liability to flooding from groundwater/heavy rain, and needing extensive measures to overcome this, is one. Fire escape measures is another. Ability to change/link to other structures as requirements vary (and we all know how airports can be permanent construction sites) is a third. It's bad enough for underground city railways.

some sort of retractable escalator to take the passengers up/down to/from the aircraft.
Afraid the Disability Access regulations make this one a non-starter nowadays.
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Old 30th Jul 2011, 10:55
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I asked if it had been tried anywhere but most of the responses seem to be arguing against it.......

Regarding the engineering challenges I very much suspect that building an underground structure strong enough to support aircraft would seem trivial compared to supporting a 30 storey office tower!
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Old 30th Jul 2011, 12:56
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I asked if it had been tried anywhere but most of the responses seem to be arguing against it.......
And as Gavin C explained the New Terminal at DXB is mostly under apron and taxiway.

Lots of the admin areas, the inbound immigration and baggage reclaim area and check in /outbound security are all underground - under the taxiways and associated aprons. All the public areas are very well lit and appointed as you would expect but of course you don't have to spend too much time in these areas before going into the pier for departures or the city for arrivals.
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Old 30th Jul 2011, 13:38
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I read the question as being all the terminal underground, there are many airports with terminals partly underground.
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Old 30th Jul 2011, 21:21
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I suppose my question was not really clear enough, the real question is, are there any airports designed with underground terminal and facilities such that aircraft do not have to be pushed back from the gates? Something like, turn off arrivals taxiway into gate, reload, refuel then continue forwards onto departure taxiway...

Excluding those airports that operate by bussing passengers out to the planes.
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Old 30th Jul 2011, 21:25
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Not underground, but overground. Hobart airport in Tazmania doesn't do any push backs, just turn forwards and they park on an angle right next to the building or they park on an angle where they can taxi straight forward, one big building, not separate areas as such.
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Old 30th Jul 2011, 21:36
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London City is another significant point where pushback tractors are not used but aircraft perform a tight 135 degree turn in front of the gate. It was part of the original airport concept, to provide rapid turnrounds. It does mean pax crossing the ramp in the open, which seems to dismay some, especially from the US.

Nothing underground needed though. A couple of generations ago many terminals were done this way.
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