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

Heathrow infrastructure

Upgrading airfield facilities is vital: Matt Palmer is the man responsible for ensuring the airport’s taxiways, runways and aircraft stands keep pace with terminal development.

Matt Palmer, BAA’s programme director for Heathrow Infrastructure is a true civil engineer at heart. He has worked at Heathrow since 2000 and has developed a reputation as “BAA’s concrete farmer” on major civil and pavement projects.

Infrastructure development represents a major aspect of Heathrow’s Q5 capital plan. The portfolio of work across all five programmes amounts to a total spend of over £800M. The biggest area of work is airfield development. As well as preparing for extra stands to support the new satellite pier T5c, Palmer and his team will be supporting the development of the new Eastern Campus, including making space to develop the new satellite pier at Heathrow East.

A major milestone has recently been achieved, with Morgan Est completing the civil work for the realignment of taxiways in order to build the new pier. “We are removing the redundant, diagonal runways, which date back to when turboprop planes needed to take off with the wind, and creating north/ south taxiways to enable a toast-rack layout,” Palmer explains. “This is the most efficient layout for a modern airport as it allows more than one pier entry and exit route.”

Old taxiways will also be upgraded to withstand new Airbus A380 aircraft which require more robust surfaces. “We have specified a special type of concrete which is thinner than normal, but with greater strength,” says Palmer. “This is cheaper and more environmentally friendly because we use less volume of materials.”

Sustainability is a key part of Palmer’s role, as he is also in charge of upgrading the energy infrastructure. The aim is to use fewer plants and to recycle heat and power to meet strict energy reduction targets. Other responsibilities include multistorey car parks, and again Palmer and his team will use smart techniques. “BAA uses modular car parking products, so the designs that we delivered at Glasgow and T5 will also be used at Heathrow East,” he says.

Palmer seems undaunted by scale of the challenge facing him despite having to work around the world’s busiest international airport. “At T5, we had the luxury of working in a stand alone environment. Now we have to do the same again, but at the same time juggling with all the airport operational flows,” he says.

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.