Innovation, Expansion

Aug. 1, 2003
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.


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.

The shared infrastructure is designed to grow with the changing and expanding needs of the system, which Burke says is capable of handling just about anything users can throw at it. “Our role is to enable airlines to bring in whatever they feel is the best methodology for them [in terms of software],” Burke explains.

The main benefits of a common infrastructure for tenants include cost savings, standard training and equipment, information sharing, and consolidation of resources. “It’s an interesting time in terms of airline economics,” Burke says. “They’re looking for the best value.” Which is exactly what YYZ’s infrastructure is designed to provide.

The airport will also benefit from the shared system, primarily by having all data in one central location. Burke explains there is a lot of gathering of data going on throughout the airport, but much benefit could be seen by sharing and applying that data to see where efficiencies can be made.


As the airport business model evolves, Burke says the airport realizes the advantages of “intercepting the technology curves.” Because of that, Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology, designed and manufactured by Bentley Systems, Inc., has played a key role in the expansion of YYZ. Burke describes it as “electronic drawings which you can drill down into.

”The facilities management tool allows Burke’s team to take graphical representations of all airport buildings and join them with the technical data already on file. For example, there may be several different contractors working in one building and it’s important to have the right technology to be able to share information between all the parties. BIM facilitates this by storing the information in a common language in a central database. Information can include lease details, location of cabling, sprinklers, and other structural information.

“This way, everybody is looking at the same version and everyone is working in context,” explains Huw Roberts, director of marketing for Bentley Systems, Inc. “When you have BIM and you’re operating a managed environment, it allows solutions to operate at a facility-wide scale. You can manage assets and the entire facility through the operational life cycle.”