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Airport MSI: integrating technology into airport construction

Published on  18 February by Ned Macesic , Vice President Business Development, Airport Solution Line, SITA
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Airport construction is booming as the industry focuses on expanding hub airports, developing new markets and upgrading infrastructure. In total, there were over $385 billion of airport projects in progress globally, according to the CAPA Airport Construction and Capex database. The market is being led by Asia with over $115 billion worth of new projects.

For example, the five biggest US airport construction projects in 2014 were all worth over a billion dollars, led by Washington Dulles. In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is spending a staggering $32 billion on expanding its second airport to handle over 200 million passengers per year. And Thailand has secured a further $2 billion to expand Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok.

One thing that unites all of these airports is that they will have a greater focus on technology than ever before. According to the Airport IT Trends Survey 2014, the majority (68%) of IT investment is improving the passenger experience, followed by reducing the cost of business operations (39%). Examples include speeding up passenger check-in and boarding, optimizing aircraft servicing and loading, embracing the digitally “connected passenger”, and creating a personalized airside retail experience.

Unique challenge of technology

This wave of construction offers a great opportunity for airport operators to deploy the latest airport technology. Compared to retrofitting a suite of technology into an existing terminal, there is a significant cost-benefit to be realized by deploying it into a terminal while it is being constructed.

However, the high concentration of technology in airports also poses a unique challenge for their construction. The primary requirement for any construction project is that the building is delivered on time and on budget. Airport terminal construction projects can have a program run-rate that is as much as $1million per day, so it is imperative to eliminate the risk of any delay.

Traditionally, construction contractors appoint airport technology trades individually, which often results in silos of technologies being designed and installed by multiple, independent and unrelated organizations. This creates a serious risk that the technology systems for the airport are not ready for operational service at the right point in the construction schedule.

To reduce the risk of delays, SITA has developed the Airport MSI (Master System Integration) solution. It incorporates both a full range of airport technology and the program management capability to deliver an end-to-end integrated solution. In effect through Airport MSI, SITA brings together all the technology suppliers into a single program of works that integrates into (and informs) the construction contractor’s master building plan.

Read more about how Airport MSI can help reduce risk in airport construction in this paper.

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