The Dallas-Fort Worth Airport Has an Amazing New Way to Build Passenger Gates


(CNN) – Airport gates are usually the last point of solid ground that takes off before takeoff, but this month at a US airport, a remarkable engineering feat saw multiple gates go on their incredible journey.

In what is believed to be an aviation industry first, four newly constructed gates – boxy rooms made of concrete, glass and steel – could be seen crawling into the tarmac at Texas’ Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in the middle of the night. Before being established in its new home in Terminal C, the second busiest airport in the United States.

The nearly unimaginable feat was accomplished late last Thursday and the following morning, when the final gate – built remotely on airport land for its Terminal C – was moved across a runway via a high-tech, flatbed truck and added to the terminal for use by American Airlines at its primary hub.

From 26 August to 8 September three other new gates were moved in the same way. Next year, passengers would board and disembark flights through them, if everything went according to plan.

DFW officials told CNN In an exclusive interview that this mode of gate construction and transportation – in the works before the pandemic began – is a first for airports around the world.

He also said that it could create a blueprint for other airports to mimic, as it creates both time and cost efficiencies and also provides stability features.

The new gates were moved from a construction site to their location in Terminal C.

Chris Bouselot/DFW Airport

a busy terminal

Terminal C is entirely occupied by American, which operates narrow-body and regional aircraft there. It is also DFW’s largest, busiest and oldest terminal.

Its furthest gates – 33, 35, 36, 37 and 39 – comprise a 72,000-square-foot extension that was built in 1988.

DFW Chief Executive Sean Donohue said that the five 1988 gates of Terminal C should have been used for 10 or 15 years. Due to their central location and continued use, DFW has so far opted not to replace them.

Their demolition began in February and ended in March, when work began on the foundations and underground utilities for the new gates at the terminal. This work was completed in August.

It took a lot of players to complete such a complex project.

DFW worked with construction companies Archer Western, HJ Russell and Philips/May; design firm PGAL; and structural engineering firm Henderson Rogers to replace the 1988 gates.

By operating on a site away from the terminal, DFW could accelerate what was essentially a prefabrication process.

By operating on a site away from the terminal, DFW could accelerate what was essentially a prefabrication process.

Chris Bouselot/DFW Airport

a 900,000 pound job

They came up with a plan to build four new gates remotely and renovate a fifth old gate on the site.

DFW could build four new gates remotely because of its tremendous size: Spread over 17,000 acres across the vast plains of North Texas between Dallas and Forth Worth, it is the second largest airport by land area in the United States.

Khalid Naja, DFW’s executive vice president of infrastructure and development, explained another appeal of the plan: By working on a remote site next to the airfield on the east side of the airport, DFW could speed up what is essentially a prefabrication process. .

New gates weighing 900,000 pounds, or about 408,200 kilograms, were built at this site from April to August.

The airline’s operations in DFW cease at 11 p.m. each night. Four new gates – divided into six prefabricated modules – were moved by a hi-tech, flatbed truck into six overnight shifts, the first running 26–27 August and the last September was 9-10.

After the modules were moved, they were welded to the end of Terminal C which previously occupied the 1988 gates.

The four new gates have prefabricated steel frames, glass walls, concrete floors and roofs made of concrete, asphalt and fiberglass.

The four new gates have prefabricated steel frames, glass walls, concrete floors and roofs made of concrete, asphalt and fiberglass.

Chris Bouselot/DFW Airport

finishing touches

The four new gates span a total of 80,000 square feet and feature prefabricated steel frames, glass walls, concrete floors and roofs made of concrete, asphalt and fiberglass.

Now that they are in their place, their interiors will be gone.

The process will involve connecting underground and underground utilities and setting up restrooms. Once this work was done, American would be able to fit the interiors of the gates, including seats, desks, signs and the architectural framework for concessions.

The opening of the new gates is scheduled for June 2022.

The fifth new gate will be built on site at Terminal C from June to August 2022. During this process, passengers will be able to bypass the construction as needed by walking through the halls of the terminal, which will be unobstructed.

The gates will then be connected to the utilities and will have toilets, seats and other interior elements installed.

The gates will then be connected to the utilities and will have toilets, seats and other interior elements installed.

Chris Bouselot/DFW Airport

Better Doors, Better Travel

Donohue said the new gates will offer passenger-friendly amenities he hopes will be available in all five of DFW’s terminals for a longer period.

The location of each new gate will be approximately 30% larger than that of other DFW gates, while the new electrical signs will show easily visible flight information throughout the gate area.

The toilets at the new gates will also provide information on the availability of stalls in the terminal and elsewhere, a feature DFW began offering in Terminals A and D in May 2020.

Most importantly, the walls of the new gates are covered with what’s called “dynamic glass,” which Donohue said will cool temperatures in the gate areas by 15 to 20 degrees in the summer.

Faster and cheaper than traditional methods

Donohue said the process of building and running Terminal C’s new gates had “enabled us to deliver the project” 20% faster and 25% more cheaply than using traditional construction methods.

The cost of the project is $215 million, with 62% being borne by DFW and 38% by American Airlines.

Donohue also said that the COVID-19 pandemic had “no major impact” on the process.

DFW said other domestic and international airports have been contacted requesting information about the Terminal C Gates project.

“As airports, we share a lot of information, and we are prepared to share it with other airports,” Donohue said.

‘A complete paradigm shift’

“Net net, it would be a good thing if airports could do such projects efficiently from a time and cost perspective,” he predicted, adding that what DFW has done could be “a complete paradigm shift in terminal development, allowing them to Giving a lot can help.” faster and more efficiently.”

Sustainability is also a factor, according to Naja.

Dynamic glass gates would keep areas cooler and thus reduce the need for air conditioning and electricity, while remote construction of the gates minimized waste as they were fabricated to size.

Mark A., president of Connecticut-based Ahistoric Aviation Advisors Wilton. Ahasik said he had never heard of airport terminal gates being built and transported the way DFW’s new Terminal C gate was.

He predicted that airports and airlines other than American, which occupy Terminal C, would find the concept of DFW very attractive.

“If an airport can spend less on its terminal investment, it can charge airlines less, which will mean lower fares for passengers, better profitability for airlines.”

American Airlines did not respond to a request for comment on its new gates at DFW.

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