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Not to Drone On, But This Airport’s Taking Air Travel to New Heights

At the world’s busiest airport, Jacobs is supporting construction of a multi-billion-dollar effort to prepare the airport for climbing passenger and cargo numbers and a visionary future. 

As a lone drone flew over a runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) on a Saturday morning in March last year, it marked yet another first for ATL.

With the drone flight, ATL became the first major airport in the U.S. to attain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly in airfield space. The airport will use data captured from the drone, combined with topographical information and holographic imaging, to help guide planning for its new runway.

Earlier this year, Airports Council International named ATL the world’s busiest airport for the 20th consecutive year, and the airport remains the only one to ever surpass 100 million passengers in a single year – serving almost 104 million passengers in 2017. Not only does ATL boast impressive passenger and cargo numbers, it also facilitates nearly $80 billion in direct economic impact throughout Georgia.

But how does such a facility secure its position as the world’s most-traveled and efficient airport?

Answer: Building on its successes with a multi-billion-dollar capital improvement plan, which includes the new runway the drone footage will help guide.

And they’ve engaged our team to deliver construction management support services on the 20-year program – ATLNext – that will modernize the terminal and concourses, create new parking decks, construct a 440-room hotel, add the new runway and a new concourse and expand cargo facilities.

The projects kicked off in 2016 and are designed to boost capacity, renew and replace existing facilities and enhance ATL’s aesthetic appeal. As construction management consultant, our team is assisting the City of Atlanta and the Department of Aviation’s Planning and Development leadership in managing and administering construction contracts, assessing construction progress and quality and acting as an integral part of the airport’s management team.

In addition to increasing capacity with the new runway, concourse improvements, such as a gate expansion to accommodate the world’s largest passenger airliner, will also help ATL prepare to host even more passenger traffic in the future.

Before the gate expansion, ATL only had one gate that accommodated the Airbus A380, a double-deck, wide-body airplane that can seat up to 600 passengers. The second wide-body gate will open this year to facilitate better arrivals for international passengers, a growing priority at ATL. In 2017, ATL welcomed 12,033,865 international passengers – a 4.86 percent increase over 2016 numbers.

Throughout it all, ATL is committed to harnessing the latest technologies, like drones and more, to ensure continued efficiency and capacity – and Jacobs is excited to help pursue and achieve their goals for the next chapter in ATL’s growth and development.

Jacobs also holds an operations and maintenance contract to help maintain the airport’s facilities, such as the Central Passenger Terminal Complex, including the 1.2-million-square-foot Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal, domestic concourses, central utility plants, plane train tunnel, transportation mall and ground support equipment buildings.

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