Plane at an airport

Airports that work

People profile: Simon Oakley

Simon Oakley

What makes airport projects unique compared to other types of transport projects?


The airport environment is unlike anything else and varies so broadly from a regional aerodrome, to an international airport, to a defence airfield. Airports collectively are fast becoming the critical infrastructure of the transport system. The broad range of engineering disciplines involved in an airport, as well as the many specialised areas of expertise makes for very challenging projects where communication and a pragmatic approach are essential.

A valuable piece of advice you could give to a prospective client would be?


Do it right the first time. Key factors that detract from this are:

  1. Investment of time and effort to define the technical project objectives prior to sending out the consultancy brief. The chance to upgrade or construct new infrastructure does not come along often, so when the opportunity does present itself, make sure you know what you want. Seek assistance from within the industry if required.

  2. Defining the project budget without talking to someone who has done the specific type of work before (whether it is planning, design or construction). Working to a fixed budget which is not realistic for the project will impede achieving the best quality long term solution.

  3. Involvement in the project and asking questions. A client with a risk adverse management culture does not contribute to their organisations collective knowledge, it diminishes working relationships, and is likely to not help you manage the next project.

  4. Proactively planning your project, allowing plenty of time for the design and tender phase. Too often the ‘knee jerk’ project program to satisfy a board or council meeting deadline restricts the production of good quality documentation which can then impact subsequent phases of the project.

And three things you enjoy about your job…


  1. Seeing a project progress from feasibility through to the final product and successfully conquering the range of challenges along the way.

  2. Receiving a phone call at the end of a project from a client to say “Thanks for all of your hard work, you did a great job”.

  3. The dedicated and driven people in our team. The team sets itself very high standards in work quality and sound engineering solutions.

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