Orange County Adds Capacity

The John Wayne Airport Improvement Program includes a new multi-level Terminal C with six new commercial passenger gates, a common use passenger processing system (CUPPS), a fully integrated baggage screening system, and much more


“Also, to the extent we can, we would like to increase some of our transcontinental service. Currently we have operations to New York, but markets we would like to pursue would be the Washington D.C. area, and Philadelphia,” he adds.

Planning Challenges

With regard to the airport’s physical footprint, SNA is located on slightly more than 500 acres.

“We spent quite a bit of time doing a lot of upfront planning for the new terminal, and looking at the different options available to us in terms of what made sense considering the existing terminals,” comments Murphy. “Also, from the airline perspective, what’s the most efficient way to operate the facility?

“We ended up with some rather counter-intuitive conclusions. For example, we tore down a perfectly good parking structure to build Terminal C. But that allowed us to consolidate the operations so that we had all three terminals adjacent to each other, which was a major challenge for the airlines previously.

“That strategy also limited the impact of the construction process on passengers using the existing facilities.

“The feedback I get from our customers and passengers is that it was a pretty easy transition. That is due to a lot of upfront planning and finding mitigations for potential issues that would arise during construction.”

Terminal C was designed in BIM (business information model). “With BIM, all of the functional aspects of the terminal — mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural, etc. — all get integrated into one model,” explains Murphy. “That allows us to identify any conflicts early on in the design process, and to make changes as part of the design as opposed to making the changes in the field during construction.”

Common Use and Baggage Technology

As for functionality in the terminal itself, the airport has had an ongoing interest in trying to make the gate and counter areas more efficient, relates Murhpy. “We only had 14 gates to process some 10 million passengers per year, so in order to do that, we want to have the ability to move carriers around and get as much efficiency out of the facility as we can.”

To that end, the airport has implemented CUPPS (common use passenger processing system). “We not only did that with the six new gates and ticket counters associated with Terminal C, but we have also gone in and retrofitted all of Terminals A and B as well,” says Murphy.

“So now we have a situation with a common use system where any airline can operate out of any gate, and they can actually expand or contract their operations at the ticket counters very simply by logging into the counter space.

“From a passenger perspective, it means you can check-in at any kiosk in the complex for any airline. I think that provides a lot of functionality and flexibility for the carriers, passengers, and the airport.”

SNA has also completely changed out and upgraded the FIDS (flight information display systems).

With regard to baggage screening technology, Murphy says after 9/11 — and the mandated requirement to provide 100 percent screening of checked bags — SNA was one of the first airports to implement an airport-wide integrated and automated baggage screening system (Terminals A and B).

“We have built a similar system for Terminal C … and we are now going the next step with TSA by networking all three systems together,” comments Murphy. “All three terminal baggage screening systems will be operated out of Terminal C; that will be pretty much a first for the industry.

“By networking the machines in one location together, during off-peak times — four machines can be operated by one person. That frees up TSA staff to perform other activities; there are some real cost and personnel savings for the administration there.”

Facility Design

“One of my travel pet peeves is when I go down to a baggage claim where I am stuck in a cave with low ceilings and a lot of noise from mechanical systems; It’s just not very welcoming,” relates Murphy.

“When we were designing Terminals A and B in the late 1980’s, we were looking to make it a much more welcoming experience by opening up the space; we did that with the very large barrel-vaulted ceilings over the baggage claim areas.

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