How to deal with the “new normal” in airport development: when airport projects fly off course

Any major infrastructure project is vulnerable to going over budget, lack of stakeholder acceptance, running behind schedule, or experiencing other setbacks. However, since years airport projects unfortunately may fly off course more often than other types of infrastructure development and construction because they are more complicated and involve more uncertainty. This is the new normal in airport development and it is not expected the situation will improve.

Airport projects unfortunately may y off course more often than other types of infrastructure construction because they are more complicated and involve more uncertainty.

Antony Morgan  – PWC

Why is this the situation for airports and how to deal with this ‘new normal’? This white paper will cover the challenges for airport development and the shortcomings of the conventional approach. In addition, this paper will position the concept and principles of systems engineering in airport development based on a case study. This case involves the application of systems engineering from the early start, strategic planning proces, and in all stages of the project.

About Lelystad airport

The case, Lelystad Airport expansion project, includes development of multi-discipline infrastructure and construction works and, hence, is large in scope. The airport involves a wide variety of stakeholders and revenue sources and has a long timeline from planning to completion, increasing the likelihood of design

and other changes along the way. Lelystad Airport is being developed in a volatile time for air travel, in which it is difficult to predict what the airport’s needs are in 10 years. All these aspects, resulting in more complexity, will let the conventional approaches stumble.

A new approach: systems engineering

Lelystad Airport has chosen to embrace systems engineering as a ‘new’ approach for its development, implemented already during the strategic planning phase. Systems engineering helped Lelystad Airport to explore the context, stakeholders and conceptualize the solutions comprehensively. SE enhanced the life-cycle focus within the project team, however, the project maintained the adaptablity of changes in its environment. By means of SE the transitions between Lelystad Airport and its contractors were improved, while transaction costs are lowered. The information modeling and transparency of SE also provides important support during the EASA certification process.


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