Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Engineers 'astonished' by Paris airport verdict


BRITISH STRUCTURAL engineers have reacted with astonishment to official claims that punching failure triggered the collapse of a terminal building at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris last May.

French government investigators this week claimed that steel struts connected to exterior tubular steel tension members punched through the concrete roof of the airport's Terminal 2E to cause collapse.

Four people died in the resulting disaster (NCE 27 May).

Buro Happold partner Ian Liddell said he was 'astonished' to hear that punching failure was being blamed by the investigators.

'It would be normal practice for there to be continuous reinforcement linking all the strut connections, probably in the form of an embedded tube, ' he commented.

'This would have prevented any punching failure and helped distribute the complex loadings from the struts.'

Atkins head of structural design Mike Otlet also expressed surprise.

'Punching shear failure in concrete that should be under compression is hard to understand. But if it did happen, the concrete would buckle very quickly.'

The struts connected curved precast concrete plates to the steel tension members, forming composite lightweight units that helped create a dramatic long span arched roof effect.

An interim report submitted to the French transport ministry last week says that several of these struts had punched through the 300mm thick concrete, allowing it to buckle and disintegrate.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.