Essay on Passenger Terminal Design

3801 Words Nov 5th, 2013 16 Pages
Amedeo R. Odoni
Richard de Neufville
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The standard procedures for sizing the spaces for passenger activities in
airport terminals are unsatisfactory in that they easily lead to expensive
errors. The essential difficulty lies in the nature of the process, and in
particular with the several formulas which specify the area per passenger in
different parts of the building. The process and these formulas are
insensitive both to the variations in the operational characteristics of
terminals and to the overall variability in the level and nature of the
This paper presents practical procedures for incorporating stochastic
considerations into terminal
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Mistakes are correspondingly costly. For example, the simple, avoidable
errors in the original design of the interior spaces for the Air France
Terminal at Paris/Roissy (de Neufville and Grillot, 1982) had an estimated
price tag of around US$ 75 million in 1990 terms.
Overdesign, either as a simple expedient for avoiding future congestion or for
the aesthetic of open spaces, can also be most expensive. For example, the
decision to make the central corridor of the 180 m. long finger pier of the
new two-level Sydney ITB 12m. wide, instead of a feasible 6m., implied an
extra capital cost of about US$ 4 million.
Cost-effective, efficient design of passenger terminals is thus important,
especially in view of the number of new facilities projected. Unfortunately,
the standard design procedures for airport terminals are based on handbook
formulas insensitive to the realities of each situation. These crude
approaches cannot be considered adequate to the task. Worse, it is our
observation that the formulas are easy to misunderstand and thus frequently
A more scientific approach is required, one that incorporates a realistic
appreciation both of the dynamics and behavior of sequences of queues, and the
the psychology of crowds in such situations. The design process should also
recognize that, as we experience deregulation, the elimination of frontier
controls, and new airline organizations, the actual levels and needs of future

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