Gatwick Pier 6 Bridge and Taxiway

A bridge a Boeing can fit under

Mace worked with Gatwick to manage the construction of a new bridge linking the North Terminal to the new Pier 6, an 11 aircraft standing building. A UK first, the bridge used prefabricated techniques and materials and was moved into position in a single night.

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Gatwick Pier 6 Bridge and Taxiway Project summary

Client

Gatwick Airport

Services provided

Project and programme management, Construction management, Construction, Consultancy

Sectors

Transport, Aviation

Locations

UK and Europe, UK - London and south-east England

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Project story

Gatwick Airport is the sixth busiest international airport in the world, and is the world’s busiest airport featuring a single runway operation.

The Pier 6 development at Gatwick was built as part of expansion plans to increase the capacity of the airport's North Terminal. Mace managed the construction of the new satellite building housing 11 aircraft stands, and a 197m long pier bridge linking it to the North Terminal building. The pier bridge spans a live taxiway, and had to be sufficiently wide and high enough to allow an aircraft the size of a Boeing 747-400 to pass underneath. A landmark project, it is the first of its kind at any airport in the UK, and the largest development since the North Terminal opened in 1988.

We led an innovative approach to this project involving extensive off-site fabrication. In fact, 73% of Pier 6 was built using prefabricated elements and components, maximising the benefit of pre-assembly techniques. The pier connector was constructed off-site to ensure minimum disruption to airport operations, construction in-situ would have closed the taxiway for more than six months, resulting in a huge financial impact to BAA through loss of revenue.

Project stats

1 million man hours worked in complete safety
73% of Pier 6 built using prefabricated elements and components
10,000 journeys reduced through transport rationalisation scheme
1 week closure of taxiway during construction

Points of note

Pioneering a UK first

The scale of prefabrication is something that has rarely been seen outside the offshore industry, and is a pioneering process for UK airports. The bridge was moved into position over a single night using a series of self-propelled modular transporters moving at 0.5 km an hour, and the taxiway was reopened to aircraft after only ten days, a sequence that could not possibly have been executed without modern techniques in heavy moving and lifting equipment.

Focus on sustainability

Sustainability was a strong aspect of this project, with Pier 6 saving 50,000 coach journeys per year between the North Terminal and remote parking stands. Resources and materials have been recycled and reused efficiently throughout the project, even 80% of the project office’s canteen food waste was recycled. Post-tensioned slabs were used in the construction instead of conventional piling, significantly reducing waste levels. Environmentally, the bridge was a better solution than a tunnel, which would have meant disposing of 81,000 tonnes of earth.

Innovative, efficient and safe

The project boasts a number of innovations. Fixed electrical ground power (FEGP) units installed in the satellites reduce aircraft emissions by saving on the number of fuel trucks needed to refuel aircraft. Lighting and ventilation sensor controls configure the air conditioning system in line with passenger numbers, while escalators and travelators are activated on demand using automatic sensors which delivered significant energy savings. Pier 6 also reduces the need to tow aircraft, and makes it easier to service and refuel them. Added to this the innovative prefabrication methods used for construction were at low level, removing the need to work at height and over an operational airfield which eased supervision and improved safety.

“A landmark structure in one of the world’s busiest airports, providing a link for passengers between the North Terminal and the new satellite building. The flowing, curved shape of the bridge provides a unique experience for passengers as they pass high above moving aircraft.”