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Viewpoint | Aviation's next golden age

Abu dhabi airport expansion bw

One hundred years on from the first one, we believe we are in another golden age of aviation.

Tim morrison bw cropped

Tim morrison bw cropped

Tim Morrison

The recent roundtable held at the New Civil Engineer’s Airports Conference 2017 underlined the unprecedented expansion around the world and that we as engineers are accountable for the future direction of airport design and aviation.

Opening the conference gave us at WSP the opportunity to reflect on our responsibilities during this exciting time of growth, expansion and invention.

Aviation is by its very nature innovative, and we are used to harnessing science and the laws of physics, but we have to continue using our imagination to create enjoyable, safe and efficient places.

One of our many challenges is to make these places, our airports, the hub of their community.   

We are fortunate to be involved in the planning, design and management of some of the world’s best, busiest and biggest airports, such as Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, La Guardia, Taoyuan, Doha, Dubai, Queen Alia, Changi, Pearson, O’Hare, San Francisco, and Munich.

We are preparing our clients for future trends in climate, demography, resources and technology with our Future Ready approach. The technology that is emerging on the ground and in the air combined with our behaviour as an industry, is what provides our “licence to grow”. But we cannot be complacent.

Across the world we now have 34 carbon neutral airports recognised by the ACI Airport Carbon Accreditation Programme that we administer. This is great progress from when it started in 2009, but we need more, and there is an ambitious target to reach 50 carbon neutral airports in Europe alone by 2030.

Here at WSP our team enjoys solving complex problems, and they don’t come much more complicated than an airport where we blend security, sustainability, surface access, air quality, carbon emissions, noise, spatial flexibility, regulation, data management as well as the joy of flying.

While we are passionate about aviation, we don’t consider it in isolation. We, like many, are looking forward to the publication of the Airports National Policy, which should dovetail with the high speed rail strategy and integrate with the highways plans. This joined up infrastructure allows us to seize the opportunity to help us sustainably power the engine of UK Plc at home and around the world as we connect the UK to international communities.

● Tim Morrison is WSP aviation director, based in London

In association with

Wsp 4c

Wsp 4c



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