Doing it Big in Texas

Dallas/Fort Worth International cues up the opening act of its $2.3 billion TRIP program. Phase I – a revamped Terminal A – began welcoming passengers on a new airport journey in April

It’s long been said that Texas does things big—and at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) that saying translates into a massive transformation as part of a seven-year, $2.3 billion Terminal Renewal and Improvement Program (TRIP).

The first phase of this project took off in April as the airport opened the gates on its Terminal A revamp, which included renovations to Gates 1 to 16; state-of-the-art technology; upgrading mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems; and moving around key aspects of business to better serve customers, says DFW Vice President of Airport Development and Engineering Perfecto Solis. “These improvements make DFW more efficient and competitive for the next 30 to 40 years” he adds.

American Airlines, which has flights in and out of Terminals A and C, with subsidiary American Eagle at Terminal B, saw this program as an opportunity to renovate its own passengers’ experiences. “From the moment passengers arrive at DFW to the time they walk on the airplane, we want them to be as stress-free as possible,” says American’s Vice President of Real Estate, Kevin Cox.

He uses the phrase next-generation airport to describe the experience at DFW, one that eases travel and removes unnecessary obstacles for passengers on the way to their flights, which just might be the trip they’ve been dreaming of.

From the Inside Out

The airport’s facilities date back to 1974, with the exception of Terminal D and the new train system built in the early 2000s. Originally the facility was expected to serve as a regional airport, and it is likely its developers never have imagined it would reach the status it has today, says Solis.

With the conclusion of the capital improvement project in 2005, airport officials turned their attention to the interior. From electrical to plumbing and airport-wide WiFi to premium concessions, the TRIP initiative is DFW’s opportunity to make this international airport that next-generation facility Cox describes.

Seventy percent of the improvements comprise enhancements passengers will never see, but will experience in some way. For example, newly installed harvest day-lighting systems centered in ceiling tiles measure ambient light and kick off the interior lights when appropriate. And, while DFW once lacked the ability to control terminal temperatures from a single location, after the conclusion of TRIP in late 2017, this function will run from the airport’s central utility plant.

A consistent temperature benefits customers and employees alike, but also benefits the facility itself. The utility plant was at capacity prior to the Terminal A revamp, but now has capacity left over because of the energy savings these changes generate. Solis says that a 30-percent average reduction in operating costs is expected for the terminals once all new systems are integrated. Creating these efficiencies is also allowing DFW to expand with 19 new gates and other projects, all while maintaining operating expenses.

Technology has been a large part of the efficiency boost in Terminal A. iPads benefit superintendents and foremen, who no longer carry rolls of drawings with them, says Solis. “Everything is technology-based,” he adds, noting that video conferencing enables managers to make decisions from wherever they are. USB ports are available to charge devices, as are traditional outlets.

When storms hit, DFW will boast the world’s largest Public Address Voice Evacuation System (PAVE). All terminals will be notified simultaneously in the event of weather concerns or other emergencies.

Forty communications rooms throughout the five terminals will connect via 8 million linear feet of fiber optic cables and 2 million linear feet of speaker wire. Previously the horseshoe-shaped terminals lacked a common fiber optic background. “It’s all about continuity,” he adds. “A big part of what we’re doing in TRIP is to provide that infrastructure.”

Foundation for the Future

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