Innovation, Expansion

Technology leads the way for YYZ growth


TORONTO — In October, Toronto Pearson International Airport will celebrate the opening of Terminal One New (T1-New). Construction of the 350,000-square meter building began in 1997 and is a major portion of a ten-year, $4.4 billion (CAN) airport development program, which also includes airfield development and improvements to cargo facilities. Key to the ADP is the new technology the airport is deploying, designed around a common-use, managed infrastructure.

YYZ sits some 15 miles northwest of downtown Toronto. The Greater Toronto Airports Authority assumed control of the airport in 1996, following the divestiture of many airports by the federal government. GTAA has a 60-year ground lease with the government to operate YYZ, Canada’s largest airport.

Shortly after the creation of the GTAA, plans were drafted to update and expand the airport in stages. Special attention was paid to Terminal One, which according to officials was constructed in 1962 and had exceeded its life expectancy.

When the new facility opens for passenger traffic, the original Terminal One will be dismantled.

T1-New is designed to handle 50 million passengers annually, a tremendous jump from Terminal One’s current capacity. Jason Ritchie, GTAA information officer, explains Terminal One was designed to handle three million passengers annually and is above capacity at six million.

Air Canada, YYZ’s largest tenant, will be the main occupant in T1-New.

A parking facility located immediately outside T1-New will be the largest parking structure in Canada, officials say, holding 12,600 vehicles. In the long term, plans call for Terminal Two to come down as well.

Rounding out this phase of the development is a new east/west runway and taxiway development. An automated people mover system is also in the planning stages. According to Ritchie, an RFP was issued in mid-July for the project.

COMMON TECHNOLOGY

The airport has chosen to implement a managed infrastructure, whereby airport operations as well as tenants operate on the same network. James Burke, VP of information technology and telecommunications, describes the decision as a natural progression. “I think what we’re doing is a proper extension of a modern landlord. We are already providing the runways, the terminal buildings, and now we are providing a common use approach to the check-in positions within those various buildings. And what’s come with this is sharing at a very good level of technical innovation, so that they’re not needing something else. They’ve actually got it there, all they’ve got to do is tap into it. I think it’s probably the way landlords will be working.”

Burke says as the airport grew and buildings were added over the years, each structure was beginning to evolve as a self-contained unit — each with its own infrastructure.

When plans were laid for development of the airport, it was concluded that a common infrastructure for airport operations would best suit the organization. Out of that came the decision to make that common network available to the airport tenants, namely the airlines.

GTAA is using AirportConnect, from SITA, which will integrate its Common Use Passenger Processing System (CUPPS), dedicated workstations, cellular phones, and more on a single, managed infrastructure. The common-use technology will also allow the airport to manage and allocate resources.

Burke explains the airlines will no longer have to install or manage updates of the hardware. He looks at this as a “value-added” feature of doing business at YYZ. “It’s a bonus for operating out of a particular airport.”

As the airport is a non-profit entity, Burke says tenants using the infrastructure will be billed according to usage with an equitable sharing of costs.

While it may be new to airports, a common infrastructure, or “campus area network,” is standard among businesses, says Burke.

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