how to build collaborative aviation teams

Airports across the island of Ireland face increasing passenger numbers and will need to be improved and expanded to cope with future demand. Transportation specialist Derval Cummins and aviation programme manager Joe Glowacki discuss how to set up the effective collaboration needed to deliver these highly complex aviation projects successfully.

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More people are flying than ever before. Globally around 7.8 billion air passengers are expected to travel in 2036 — that’s nearly double the four billion who flew in 2017, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA) figures.2036 Forecast Reveals Air Passengers Will Nearly Double to 7.8 Billion It’s thought that new routes, and lower airfares due to more competition and efficient planes, are helping to fuel the boom.

Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport — Ireland’s busiest — have increased by 55 per centdaa Releases 2017 Annual Results over the past five years according to the daa with a record-breaking 29.6 million passengersDublin Airport Sets New Passenger Record travelling through the airport in 2017. This trend is set to continue, with the daa planning to invest a reported €900 millionDublin: EUR 900 million to expand the airport by 2023 on expansion projects at the airport, in addition to its plans for a new runway, allowing it to accommodate up to 40 million passengers per year.

Belfast International Airport is experiencing a surge in demand too: 5.84 million passengersBelfast International Airport sets sight on 6 million passengers for 2018 passed through the airport in 2017 — up 700,000 from 2016 — with VINCI, the airport’s new owner, expected to support continued investment in capital expansion programmes. Cork, Kerry and Knock (Ireland West) airports all recorded strong growth in 2017-2018 as well.

The rise in both domestic and international air travel will bring economic and social benefits to cities and countries around the world. It will also put a strain on our airports. To meet demand and support long-term growth, aviation infrastructure from terminals to runways will need to be modernised and expanded.

Integrated and diverse teams operating collaboratively are critical to delivering these large and highly complex projects. Unifying stakeholders — from clients, consultant and sub-consultants through to contractors and the local workforce — is essential to bringing these projects to life. So how do you create the level of collaboration required?

SIX STEPS TO COLLABORATIVE WORKING

To start, a collaborative approach to team formation and management is required. Project leadership needs to take an active role in setting the tone and establishing an integrated unit from the top down. Based on our experience of delivering airport infrastructure worldwide, we suggest six crucial steps to building collaborative team environments:

1/ ESTABLISH AND DOCUMENT SHARED PRINCIPLES AND CORE VALUES

Set up principles and values early on and develop them as a team forms — this is a critical first step in developing common goals. At San Diego International Airport (SAN), after helping to deliver an US$864 million green build terminal expansion project, we developed a detailed lessons-learned assessment benefiting future SAN projects.

2/ DEVELOP COMMON POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Create these in collaboration across stakeholders and most importantly, use them consistently. Organising a basic framework of policies at the start of a project will contribute to effective major programme delivery.

We blend our foundational materials with our clients’ business practices to create a tailored and structured set of policies, recently using this approach to develop procedures at San Francisco International Airport, ensuring we have a common set of requirements to manage a US$1.2 billion terminal reconstruction programme.

Unifying clients, consultants, sub-consultants, contractors and the local workforce is essential to bringing airport improvement and expansion projects to life.

3/ OPERATE ON A SINGLE, INTEGRATED INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM

Standardise your IT platform to ensure seamless and consistent reporting, document control and communication. At Orlando International Airport, we implemented an on-premise SharePoint technology framework, providing an intranet and records management system for 500 airport customers including airlines and ground handlers, across 20-plus city and Greater Orlando Airports Authority departments. This included integrated document collaboration and reporting using cloud hosting for design and construction documents on the US$1.5 billion Automated People Mover Complex and new South Terminal. Having this common technology platform enabled the team to better communicate and collaborate across scopes and disciplines.

 

TO MEET DEMAND AND SUPPORT LONG-TERM GROWTH, AVIATION INFRASTRUCTURE WILL NEED TO BE MODERNISED AND EXPANDED.

4/ ESTABLISH CLEAR ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Match project needs with individual talent and project goals. Create a path that links each person’s success with the success of the project. As part of our project and cost management work at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), we combined our resources with Los Angeles World Airport to become a collaborative and integrated organisation.

INTEGRATED, DIVERSE TEAMS OPERATING COLLABORATIVELY ARE CRITICAL TO DELIVERING THESE HIGHLY COMPLEX PROJECTS.

We developed roles and responsibilities for the project with both client and consultant staff competing for those positions. This allowed staff to focus their CVs for roles they were most interested in with the best candidate selected for each position following screening and interviews.

5/ CO-LOCATE AND CREATE VENUES FOR COLLABORATION

Outfit participants with key project materials, goals and objectives so everyone has common ground on which to collaborate. At San Francisco International Airport (SFO) our design-build contractor assembled a ‘big room’ on the SFO Campus, creating a project headquarters for the team. As the project management team, we co-located with SFO staff, the designer and the builder to programme, design, and build the US$1.2 billion Terminal 1 Center Project. The approach enhanced communications, technology transfer, problem solving and overall comradery of a team of approximately 240 people at the height of the project’s design and preconstruction development phase.

6/ ESTABLISH THE MANTRA OF ‘CHECK YOUR BUSINESS CARD AT THE DOOR’

Promote this mindset among all team members by emphasising their role on the project team, rather than their title or position with their employer. At Dallas Fort Worth Airport (DFW) we’ve integrated with DFW and brought together six sub-consultants under Project Excellence Team banner and logo with all staff referring to themselves as part of this team rather than an employee of a firm. We perform work as one unified team supporting DFW as we deliver over US$1 billion of capital improvements.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

To cater for increasing passenger numbers and as part of a wider capital works programme at Schiphol airport, our global team of aviation experts from across the UK, Holland and the US have been working as one, alongside local architectural firm cepezed, since 2017 to design a new pier and airside infrastructure at Schiphol Airport. The team has supported and advised the client on a range of issues, from technical and sustainable solutions to cost estimating and international design standards, delivering the fast-tracked design in just one year.

The pier, which is on target to achieve a Gold Certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) rating, will provide Schiphol with eight new gates; five for narrow-body aircrafts on the north side, and three Multiple Aircraft Ramp System gates for wide-body aircraft on the south, which can also be used for six narrow-body aircraft, helping to increase the airport’s capacity by 14 million passengers per year.