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Construction project management for aviation


Effective project management for airport infrastructure



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Airports are complex, busy, safety critical and highly regulated environments in which to complete construction projects. They need ongoing investment in infrastructure and compete globally for airline and passenger customers. Managing projects in this context requires a delicate balance of precision, planning, and collaboration.


The challenges of aviation project management


Live Operations

One of the primary challenges in airport construction projects is ensuring uninterrupted operations amidst ongoing construction activities. With airports serving as bustling hubs of activity, any disruption can have a cascading effect. Effective aviation project managers employ strategies such as phased construction and off-peak scheduling to minimise impact on the airport's operations. This ensures that flights continue to take off and land without delay, and that the customer experience through surface access infrastructure and the terminal is unaffected by construction works.

 


A group of workers in high-vis lay asphalt for an airport runway at night


Safety Focus

Airport construction sites present unique safety considerations due to the presence of aircraft and heavy machinery. Within the terminal, thousands of customers can pass within a few meters of major construction works.


Airport operators and project managers must prioritise safety as a non-negotiable aspect of the project, implementing stringent protocols, conducting regular safety audits, and providing comprehensive training to all personnel. Nurturing a culture of safety is a key responsibility of the project manager in order to ensure the well-being of workers, members of the public, and the integrity of the project.

 

Regulation

The aviation industry operates within a highly regulated environment, and airport construction projects are no exception. Project managers face an almost herculean task staying abreast of complex regulatory requirements; from compliance with building codes to adherence to aviation regulations. By keeping up to date with regulatory requirements, obtaining necessary permits, and building positive relationships with regulatory bodies, project managers ensure seamless compliance throughout the project lifecycle.

 

Effective project management for aviation construction projects

 




Collaboration and communication

Effective communication is a key component of airport construction projects. Project managers act as conduits, facilitating transparent communication among stakeholders, including airport authorities, contractors, and local communities. By providing regular updates, addressing concerns proactively, and pursuing collaboration, project managers ensure alignment and build trust throughout the project.

 

Planning and Execution

Construction projects at airports require assiduous planning and preparation ahead of the works, followed by well-informed coordination, technical experience, and strategic decision-making during the works. Project managers must navigate logistical challenges while minimising disruption to airport operations. Through careful planning, effective communication, and adherence to strict timelines, projects can be executed seamlessly. This ensures that the airport continues to serve today's passengers efficiently while it enhances its infrastructure for the future.

 

Transition

As the project nears completion, the focus shifts to delivering a seamless transition. Project managers oversee final inspections, operational readiness testing, and coordination with airport operations, external stakeholders and third parties to ensure a smooth handover. Thorough and comprehensive attention to activities in the transition phase ensures that new airport infrastructure is ready to serve passengers and airlines efficiently from day one.



Airport construction project management requires precision, foresight, focus on safety and a commitment to excellence. By leveraging expertise, innovation, and effective communication, project managers handle the complexities of airport infrastructure projects, ensuring that airports remain safe and efficient hubs of connectivity and economic growth.



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Author




Mike Weeks

Mike has over 15 years experience in the construction industry, delivering both single site projects and multi-site programmes of work. He has worked in the retail, aviation, commercial and real estate sectors, in both client and consultant organisations.


Mike particularly loves working closely with customers and stakeholders to ensure their brief has been fully understood.



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