Flying high

With the value of current airport projects in the region valued at US$ 90 billion, The Big Project speaks to Cavotec; one of the few companies working across them all

During the 11th annual Airport Show, held in Dubai last month engineering group Cavotec reported a number of
achievements, including a contract to supply its advanced ground support for the world’s largest Emirates Airlines terminal and an award for the best emerging market airport equipment service provider — focussing specifically on the
environmental impact of airports.

The company’s current projects span new airport developments in Muscat and Doha; as well as Bahrain International airport and further work in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Senegal.

Contracted to projects involving the design, manufacturing, system integration, installation, testing and commissioning of systems, Cavotec is one of the only firms to be involved with the majority of the region’s airport programmes.

Among the ground systems equipment (GSE) provided are the bespoke utility popup pits, hatch pits, fuel hydrant pits and valves, pre-conditioned air (PCAir), 400Hz frequency converters, 28VDC systems, and wet services distribution for aircraft, which includes potable water, blue water and waste water systems.

The systems in use in the Middle East, North Africa and India, are designed by dedicated R&D teams, based in Germany; one of eight centres of excellent owned and operated by Cavotec.

The company says considerable resources are dedicated to improving electrically powered GSE and that new innovations are regularly introduced to the region.

Worldwide, 120 dedicated engineers, consultants, designers, technicians and manufacturers are employed to bring their individual expertise on airport projects to this vital aspect of the region’s continued infrastructure upgrades.

“For airport operators, we deliver solutions for the distribution of utilities that are required for aircraft, such as fuel, water, power, and air conditioning. We are different from traditional airport equipment manufacturers,” explains
managing director and regional manager for the Middle East and India, Juergen Strommer.

“We take an organic and consultative approach to our customers and partners. We ask a lot of questions and crucially, we listen. We listen to our customers and we also listen to our customers’ customers.

“We develop long term relationships with all our customers to better understand how their businesses operate and what objectives they have,” Strommer continues.

And with a positive outlook for the years ahead, he adds:

“There are several indicators that suggest we are at the  threshold of an unprecedented period of growthin the airports industry; with mature markets needing to upgrade existing infrastructure and emerging economies needing to construct new airports.”

“Despite the recent financial crisis, people still need to travel, and cargo and goods still need to be moved. Furthermore, environmental equirements and capacity-driven demand in emerging markets and elsewhere are likely
to fuel future growth in the industry,” he continuesto observe.

Pop up solution

Facilitating such growth, Cavotec’s products are designed to streamline efficiency of ground staff and their operations, in a number of ways. The company says their ‘pop-up pits’ can potentially save airports substantial amounts in operational costs by reducing the reliance on diesel driven equipment, in contrast to the conventional use of petrol
and diesel fuelled mobile GSE.

The pits, an ‘in-ground utilities system’, can store 400Hz, PCA hoses, potable water hoses and technical services, with electrical connection points stored in-ground when not in use. The system can be deployed when aircraft are parked.

All pop-up pits are rated Bridge Class F90 or DIN EN124 which allows a roll-over of 90 tons.

“By putting aircraft utilities underground in tunnel or pit systems, we reduce the number of vehicles on the apron.

“This results in cost savings for airports, as direct costs associated to maintain, operate and staff such vehicles are eliminated. Airports are thus also able to reduce insurance and liability costs,” Strommer explains.

In addition to the in-ground utilities systems, Cavotec also provides a range of inground fuel systems.

“The pre-conditioned air (PCAir) technology, and fuel hydrant pits offer streamlined, efficient operations, energy savings, reductions in insurance and maintenance costs, and significant environmental benefits in terms of reduced carbon emissions,” he adds.

Beyond the region

Despite additional operations in ports and maritime; mining and tunnelling; and general industry market units,   Cavotec’s airport markets unit last year reported the highest profits with revenues up 64.3%; unsurprising given the
company’s products are in operation at more than 1000 airports worldwide.

According to comments made when the news broke, these figures are the result of “continued growth, in the Middle and Far East markets, where spending on airport infrastructure remains at consistently high levels.

Revenues for the division increased US $15.2 million in 2010, yet that isn’t testament to innovative thinking on the part of those specifying airport equipment.

“One of the issues we tend to see quite often is a reluctance to change existing practice in favour of new technologies,”
Strommer observes. “This is entirely understandable, and in such cases it is up to us to illustrate how our systems
can help airports operate safely, efficiently and sustainably,” he concludes.

The region’s largest airport projects 

$1.17 billion Concourse 3, Dubai International

$6.8 billion Abu Dhabi International Airport

$1.5billion King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) Phase 1, Jeddah

$11 billion New Doha International Airport

$ 1.2 billion Muscat International expansion

$335 million Bahrain

$2.1 billion Kuwait International

Airport infra expo, Brazil, April 2011

Speaking at the Airport Infra Expo, Gary Matthews, managing director of Cavotec UK, outlined the importance of handling aircraft efficiently and sustainably to realise financial and environmental benefits.

“Currently, total worldwide passenger numbers are around 1.5 billion but in the next 40 to 50 years this will triple to over 5 billion. We will not be able to build three times the amount of airports to cope with this, so we will be forced to utilise our existing infrastructure better.
“Cavotec wants to focus on how that can be achieved sustainably; for example we can look at switching
off auxiliary power units on the aircrafts when they come in to the terminal buildings and when the aircraft is at the stand.
“There are cost benefits but most of all there are environmental benefits; not only can we make money and utilise our existing infrastructure better but, also the environment wins, too.”


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