Aviation has made our world a smaller place. We can now travel anywhere and everywhere in only a matter of hours with the kind of luxury that people could only dream about a century ago.
Airports have themselves grown and developed on their own in the past few years. They are now centers of urban growth and development. There is a constant expansion and growth of terminals, runways and taxiways. Consequently, the city grows and develops around it through addition of roads, flyovers, airport hotels and metro stations. Many scientists and engineers are trying to reduce the exponential growth of airports and its negative environmental impact. The following are a few recent airport concepts that are not only pure genius but also address the issues faced by the current aviation scenario.
#1 THE CIRCULAR RUNWAY
One of the major problems in airport development projects is the lack of proper space for expansion. Even building a new runway becomes nearly impossible.
Airport developers would probably be thrilled as this would take up a third of the space required for a standard airport layout.
While airport terminal architecture has constantly been improving and evolving over the years, this takes things to a whole new level. Thsis is the aim of Henk Hesselink, a Dutch scientist working with the Netherlands Aerospace Centre.
Also called ‘The endless runway’ this proposal features a 360-degree landing strip measuring more than two miles in diameter. Since airplanes would be able to approach and take off from any direction around the proposed circle, they wouldn’t have to fight against crosswinds. And three planes would be able to take off or land at the same time.
And there’s an added benefit to those living near airports: Flight paths could be more distributed, and thereby making plane noise more tolerable.
This new idea can have a MAJOR social and environmental impact..
The only drawbacks here were complicated flight paths, the need for more navigation aids and the fact that pilots will have to be trained to take of on this curved path.
What do you think? Is this a fantastic idea or are we just going in circles?
#2 THE VERTICAL AIRPORT
In the past, there have been many concepts of vertical skyscrapers, vertical farming and even vertical cities. This is a concept of a vertical airport. This was a design proposal by Jonathan Ortega (United States) that won honorable mention in the 2018 Evolvo Skyscraper Competition.
The use of verticality of structures, while not new, opens up new opportunities for development and expansion of airports into smaller footprints, leaving more available land for green space as well as for other development possibilities. Future airports can take advantage of verticality to reduce their land use.
Aircrafts of the future will definitely not be as they are now. There is current research and development of aircrafts with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) that won’t require long runways or huge expansive airfields.
Verticality will promote mixed-typology development, and future airports could include anything from farmer’s markets to shopping malls. Airports designed around verticality would no longer have to be confined to the very outer reaches of urban areas and could be located closer to urban activities and populations.
In the future, taking a flight will be more like walking to the corner to board the bus. By embracing verticality, mixed-typology development, and advances in technology, the future of airports will be fundamentally reformed.
#3 DRIVE THROUGH AIRPORT
We’ve all been through drive-throughs. Be it at our local McDonald’s or during an occasional trip to the car wash. This is a design proposal with a drive through concept for an airport. It is a futuristic passenger terminal concept by design studio Büro für MEHR from Amsterdam / Vienna.
Aircraft handling would be split into three phases: arrival, servicing and departure, arranged in a linear format. Planes would arrive under an elevated terminal and unload passengers before moving forward to the next station for servicing, freeing up the arrival bay for the next aircraft. Each station manages only one activity instead of being blocked for all three. The amount of necessary gates can be reduced by two- thirds, making the airport experience for both passengers and crews more user-friendly.
With a reduced footprint, airport operators have less capital and operational costs. Additional space becomes available for other airport related revenues. Contrary to current terminals where passengers are required to leave the mall area, in order to walk to their distant boarding gates, Drive Through Airport lets passengers depart directly from a mall.
Taxiing ways are also getting reduced. This saves fuel and increases the capacity for airlines. Transfer time for passengers and their luggage is also reduced, ultimately minimizing the number of passengers missing their connection.
Air side tarmac and energy consuming building footprint is reduced to an ultimate minimum, making this as green as an airport can be.
These are a few of the inspiring airport concepts I’ve come across. With modern technology and development in the aviation industry, no doubt we will see many of these ideas come to life in the near future.
A from TAD