A drawing of an airplane over a picture of the sky

Diversifying the evolving aviation ecosystem


Diversifying the evolving aviation ecosystem as it adapts to a new world

The aviation sector is changing like no other industry. Direct impacts such as COVID-19 have seen major disruptions to passenger and freight activities that airports and airlines must quickly respond to.

At the same time the industry is preparing for long-term opportunities to decarbonise, better manage the enormous amount of data that flows through its channels every day, and is preparing for the new mobility airspace. Logistics, supply companies, regulators and airlines are now intrinsically intertwined.

No longer just a place of transit, airports and airport terminals are hubs of global connectivity and community. They are multifaceted tourism, retail and leisure developments that require new thinking to thrive in a post-COVID-19 world. And they can be powerhouses for their local economies.

At Aurecon we are closely tracking – and planning for – the key mega-trends that are reshaping the industry. The trend towards more direct long-haul flights with fewer stop-overs; changing consumer expectations of the pandemic travel experience; airports as destinations; the need for more sustainable travel including design of net zero emission airports and airport terminals; and increasing disruptions due to extreme weather, global emergencies and civil or military unrest. These are just a few of the many factors Aurecon can prepare your business for today.

The business of airports

If COVID-19 has taught us anything about aviation it is that airports need to diversify and be resilient against and adaptable to change. For the past decade airports have been on a trajectory to find a balance between being a place of transit but also a destination – developing into miniature precincts – a city’s aerotropolis.

This evolution is never more important as the industry reshapes its offering, understands passenger needs and broadens its revenue streams.

Aurecon’s Aviation team co-creates innovative solutions with our clients to generate both direct and ancillary revenue for them through design led thinking processes, by challenging existing assumptions and testing new ideas. Our aim is to help clients produce world-class infrastructure centred around the user experience and maximised revenues.

Unlike many other advisory firms, we are able to combine technical and engineering expertise with broad advisory solutions that allow us to shape your asset base so it best aligns to your business strategy and delivers more value to your business, now and into the future.

We seek to question and resolve how your processes and systems stand up to the technical and digital challenges to come, harnessing the large volumes of data that airports and airlines collect.

By leveraging Aurecon’s Aviation teams collective experience, we have collated a series of ideas for airports to transition from pandemic to recovery and reform.

Learn more

Taking off to a net zero future

The aviation industry’s contribution to climate change remains a long-term risk that is firmly on the radar of owners and operators.

Reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions is central to our post-pandemic transformation. Addressing the challenge of climate change will require investments in energy-efficient terminals, runways, land development and building systems.

Understanding the impacts of new technologies and thinking long-term about transformation will allow airports to be future-proofed from an environmental, technological and socio-economic perspective.

Airports are uniquely positioned to combine innovation and technology, to mitigate against and to reduce the effects of climate change, and to create modern state-of-the-art destinations that people will celebrate as they power a region’s growth and resilience into the future.

How will your industry transition to a net zero carbon future?

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Urban air mobility

The aviation sector is starting to play its part in imagining how we define urban air mobility (UAM) and what it will look like in the future. It is likely that we will have automated corridors so that delivery of products and emergency and time critical supplies by drone can coexist with larger passenger flying vehicles as well as the traditional aircraft that we are used to.

It is easy to imagine why taking vehicles to the sky would be beneficial in radically improving urban mobility. Traffic jams are a daily occurrence for most people living in urban areas and flying vehicles could be one solution to our traffic woes, while for those living in regional areas, drones could become a way to achieve urgent or valuable deliveries.

Whilst these two transportation solutions share a similar domain, namely the airspace around our heads, we do need to consider them as differing in both their application, and maturity readiness for market. The biggest differentiator between them is the transportation of cargo, to that of passengers. The latter being a factor of greater significance in both technological innovation and regulatory protections to maintain safe operations.

During the next decades, their deployment within the broader mobility options across an urban environment will be essential in creating an integrated mobility offering for both the transportation of goods and people.

To achieve market readiness, implementation and integration of UAM must go further than just considering the placement and design of the landing zone infrastructure such as vertiports and vertistops, which are required for loading and unloading passengers throughout the city. It must also consider and involve the investment into the supporting infrastructure that allows for safe operation and integration of the UAM network into the broader transportation network.

Our services

An airport is a microcosm of society – like a mini city. Aurecon therefore brings an integrated approach to aviation clients offering engineering and advisory expertise across the entire lifecycle of aviation projects, whilst ensuring your assets are future proofed.

We apply our comprehensive knowledge of the aviation sector with design led solutions to create out of the box and cost-effective solutions.

Aircraft pavement design and rehabilitation

Aircraft pavements comprise the critical and diverse infrastructure required for the movement of aircraft, passengers, air force personnel, luggage and freight. These structures include runways, taxiways and apron pavements.

Compared to civilian footpaths and roads, which average 250 millimetres thick, aircraft pavements are approximately twice that thickness, and beyond.

Aircraft pavements must be built with high-quality materials and constructed in a highly precise manner to ensure safe, serviceable environments. Sustainable material selection is also important, to reduce embedded concrete, and increase opportunities for carbon sequestration.

Aircraft pavements can be rigid in structure – utilising concrete, flexible – using asphalt granular or gravel, or composite – a combination of asphalt and concrete. The type of pavement reflects the manner of aircraft that will use it, and which tasks they will complete.

Safety is paramount given the speed at which aircraft take off and land. Airport pavements must be graded and levelled according to exacting standards, and meet rigorous safety regulations.

The Aurecon Aircraft Pavement Design and Rehabilitation team delivers:

  • Pavement thickness design
  • Structural analysis
  • Material specification
  • Pavement rehabilitation
  • Maintenance planning
  • Lifecycle assessments and sustainability planning
  • Airfield pavement inspection and reporting

Resilient, long-term solutions

Aurecon works closely with airport owners to plan, design, and build resilient, sustainable infrastructure. This is particularly important for aircraft pavements, which can accommodate very narrow maintenance windows, and are expected to remain operational for decades.

Our Aviation team comprises civil and structural engineering specialists who understand the material characteristics and requirements for aircraft pavements. We consider the latest innovations and technologies and design solutions that incur a minimal carbon footprint.

To discuss airport pavement design and rehabilitation, contact Aviation Director – Airfields Matt Glenn.

Airfield design

Airfields encompass all areas of an airport beyond the terminal itself. This includes fixed links down to the apron such as aerobridges, taxiways, runways, hangars and parking bays, and all associated infrastructure, including drainage, lighting, and security.

Airfield design is underpinned by precise geometrical analysis to ensure the many complementary parts of the site fit together and function as required.

Aurecon’s Aviation team comprises civil engineering experts who have worked client-side within airport operations around the world. This hands-on understanding of the complex, spatial interplay within airfields informs the innovative planning and design solutions Aurecon offers clients.

Our airfield design team delivers:

  • Spatial planning
  • Master grading
  • Aeronautical ground lighting and electrical design
  • Jetway design
  • Apron design
  • Aircraft parking bay design
  • Heavy pavement design

An uncompromising approach to safety

Airfield designs must comply with International Civil Aviation Organisation (IACO) and Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) standards. Safety is paramount, and separation distances between aircraft must be carefully calculated.

Aurecon is providing major earthworks and airfields design for the new $5.3 billion Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport, which will meet the city’s growing aviation needs. This work includes the runway, taxiway networks, and the contact apron, which interfaces with the terminals.

Other recent projects have included a runway designed for C-130 aircraft, and the design of a new ground service equipment storage facility at Melbourne Airport.

Airfield Design is directly linked to Aurecon’s wider Aviation capabilities, including master planning, aircraft pavement design and rehabilitation, and airport operations.

To discuss airfield design, contact Aviation Practice Leader Kevin Dearden.

Airfield operations

Airport operations is a diverse discipline that plays a vital role in ensuring the long-term success of an airport. Our focus is on the interlinked processes that safely and efficiently move passengers and their luggage throughout an airport and surrounding areas.

As complex, expensive, and heavily regulated environments, airports operate like mini-cities. To manage these spaces well, Aurecon closely analyses the entire airport precinct, and the different drivers and opportunities that contribute to its success. Our Aviation team works closely with our Integrated Transport & Mobility team to provide integrated solutions to landside operations.

Planning and responding to disruptions – strategic and unplanned – is a key part of airport operations, and ensures an airport’s economic viability and long-term performance.

Our airport operations team delivers:

  • Capacity demand analysis
  • Airport traffic data analysis
  • Dynamic simulation models
  • Trigger point analysis
  • Non-infrastructure/operational responses

Driving continuous improvement

Aurecon collaborates with airports to improve security processes, and key members of our team have held management roles with airport operators.

Recent security upgrade projects have included analysing existing security equipment and recommending other equipment an airport may need to cater for future peak traffic. Our team uses data analysis to gather and analyse security equipment demands. This information is then used to develop a dynamic modelling simulation.

The team has also advised airports on biosecurity issues and ongoing advice throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to help airports transition to recovery and reform, minimising the impact on passenger capacity while continuing to improve passenger comfort and confidence.

To discuss airport operations, contact Aviation Capability Leader Erik Kriel.

Airfield planning

Airfields are very large and complex spaces at the heart of the “aerotropolis” – a sub-region centred on an airport. Their planning directly impacts on all users of an airport, including the communities surrounding it.

Airfield planning encompasses specialised research, high-level analytics, and design for the areas of land set aside for the take-off, landing, and maintenance of aircraft.

Successful airfield planning includes forecasting long-term growth to anticipate future needs. Another important consideration is to ensure development does not negatively impact on residential areas, and other surrounding zones. Mitigating the noise impacts of a runway activity is a common challenge in this regard.

Aurecon’s Aviation team harnesses diverse engineering expertise to provide geometrical assessment and design, airfield simulation, and aircraft tracking.

Our airfield planners deliver:

  • High-level site geometry and set out plans
  • Airfield Infrastructure review and planning
  • Engineering assessments and modelling
  • Environmental assessment and planning
  • Airfield Engineering design concept

New approach to the airfield

Emerging technologies play an increasingly important role in airfield planning, as issues such as the decarbonisation of airports become a priority.

Aurecon has collaborated with airports to plan and build new runways. Our team analysed the existing infrastructure, including highlighting existing complex intersections, and worked to optimise layout to reduce aircraft fuel burn, and aircraft taxi time. Our solutions have boosted both efficiency, and sustainability.

To discuss airfield planning, contact Aviation Practice Leader Kevin Dearden.

Aviation analytics

Airports present a rich and complex web of data, from various sources and stakeholders. Analysing this information effectively allows operators to run an efficient operation, confidently plan for growth, and respond to emerging needs.

Aviation Analytics encompasses flight schedules, passenger mapping throughout terminals, luggage operations, the movement of other vehicles within the airfield, as well as anything that is measured to improve airport operations.

A powerful example of how analytics improves user experience is the passenger security process. By utilising flight schedule data, airport operators can better understand how many security lanes will be required during peak periods, and ensure appropriate staffing.

From the airfield perspective, data informs key processes such as the parking schedule of aircraft – based on their size, type, and use – to more efficiently utilise the parking apron.

Our aviation analytics team gathers empirical data on-site via surveys and data points to ensure the most accurate and useful information is available. They utilise virtual reality technology, and 3D modelling software such as CAST to visualise equipment, infrastructure, and passenger journeys to achieve maximum planning reliability.

This data and associated asset management knowledge can also assist in ensuring you realise full value from your assets, locking in or accelerating performance improvements.

Our aviation analysts deliver:

  • Scheduling forecasts
  • Security process modelling
  • Check-in process modelling
  • Luggage process modelling
  • Feasibility studies
  • Analytics to inform airport master planning

Analytics inform all stages of the aviation project pipeline – planning, concept design, operations, and maintenance.

For the Melbourne Airport T4 Express Elevated Road project, our team worked with Aurecon’s transport planners to build a bespoke simulation model to better inform decision making.

The wealth of data available to aviation planners continues to grow, making its analysis more powerful than ever before.

To discuss aviation analytics, contact Aviation Director – Planning, David Farrell.

Construction monitoring

Effective construction monitoring, certification and verification is essential to ensure airport development projects finish on time, to budget, and to plan.

This important work considers safety regulations and guarantees that operations and capability are of the highest standards – for both civilian and defence facilities.

Aurecon’s construction monitoring team works collaboratively with airport owners and construction contractors, to ensure works align with design documents and respective regulation.

We help clients to oversee many different airport building and upgrade construction projects. This varies from discrete elements, such as airfield pavements and lighting, to constructing entire runways, building runway extensions, and new buildings.

Our team delivers:

  • Ongoing observation of critical construction
  • Regular construction management reports
  • Defect inspections including defect liability
  • Compliance inspections
  • Construction certification and verification

Aurecon has recently been working closely with the Australian Government Department of Defence to reduce the risk associated with obstacles around airfields that may not have previously been documented. This five-year construction monitoring project covered maintenance activities for airbases located across multiple states and territories.

To discuss aviation construction monitoring, contact Aviation Director – Airfields Matt Glenn.

Master and strategic planning

Aurecon supports aviation clients internationally to develop comprehensive master plans – ensuring airports achieve the highest standards of operation while establishing a clear blueprint for future development.

The master planning exercise is calibrated to each airport’s needs, and ensures the site is compliant with national and international regulatory requirements. The span of typical airport master plans ranges from five years to several decades.

An Innovative scenario-based approach plays an increasingly important role in master planning, and involves assessing potential opportunities and challenges, including emerging technologies and a changing climate. A flexible strategy that can dynamically adjust to a changing world is a key aim of our master plan outputs.

A successful airport master plan tackles competing and complex needs, while translating the required information into an accessible format for the wider community.

Aurecon’s planners deliver:

  • Statutory planning advice and support
  • Forecasting and planning for resilience
  • Internal stakeholder engagement
  • External stakeholder and community engagement
  • Coordination and delivery of the master plan

Building a blueprint for success

Aurecon was recently engaged as the lead consultant to manage the master planning process for the Hobart Airport. This important project will ensure the site’s development is in keeping with the respective land-use restrictions, other regulatory requirements, and can meet future needs.

Regardless of size or scope, master plans directly contribute to the growth, sustainability, and success of an airport operation.

To discuss airfield planning, contact Aviation Director – Planning, David Farrell.

Terminal planning and design

Airport terminals are the crucial connectors that ensure the smooth flow of passengers and luggage between the ground and the air.

Aurecon’s terminal planning and design projects are informed by best practice operations principles, ensuring passengers and their luggage move safely and efficiently throughout the airport.

In addition to observing security and safety compliance requirements, high quality terminal planning and design enables passengers to have an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Moreover, well considered terminal planning and design are foundational to achieving strong commercial revenues. Such an approach optimises the use of resources and facilities, so the terminal meets the needs of diverse user groups, including those with accessibility requirements.

Aurecon takes a holistic approach to airport terminal design – ensuring the terminal, airfield, and adjacent areas such as integrated transport facilities are properly considered.

The Aurecon terminal planning and design team delivers:

  • Operational and facility requirements analysis
  • Terminal concept planning
  • Pedestrian and simulation modelling
  • Structural assessments
  • Digital technologies assessments
  • Terminal and airfield integration
  • Building information management (BIM)
  • Project management support through to construction

Embracing new technologies and needs

Sustainable planning is key to designing future terminals. Airport terminals are increasingly incorporating future energy solutions, natural lighting, stormwater recycling, and other innovative measures such as sustainable greening and cooling initiatives to create a blue/green aerotropolis.

Another emerging issue is the use of new digital technologies for biosecurity and biometrics purposes. Properly integrating these processes into airport terminal design is a key issue for airport owners, staff, and passengers alike.

To discuss terminal planning and design, contact Aviation Director – Planning, David Farrell.

We are already using exciting digital tools, such as virtual reality and advanced visualisation, to look at project options in a new light and support strategic decision making. When we add to the emerging tools – including predictive modelling, demographic analysis, machine learning, and passenger profiling – the possibilities become endless.

Our experience with leading aviation partners and associated service providers over several decades gives us unique insight. We know how and why the expectations of travellers and consumers are changing. And, we have the tools to ensure every part of the evolving aviation ecosystem can embrace emerging technologies to future-proof our cities and economies.

Together, we can design the future of your aviation business to make sense of and deliver value for tomorrow.

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