Beijing’s new airport - new growth engine #China Newsweek#-Sino-US


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Beijing’s new airport - new growth engine #China Newsweek#
A new airport in the southern Daxing district of Beijing is taking shape with the steel structure of terminal buildings and roofing already completed.
 
The airport will take the pressure off the Beijing Capital International Airport, the second-busiest by passenger numbers for many years in the worldwide, is expected to test operations in October 2019.
 
Planned to be one of the largest airports in the world, the new airport has attracted lots of attention. The design and construction of the airport so far exhibit splendid features of a mega project in China.
 
In the eighth issue of 2018, China Newsweek magazine ran a cover story on the new airport’s design, location, construction challenges, functions and future positions.
 
Below is an excerpt of the article.
 
The new airport sits at the border of Beijing’s Daxing district and Langfang, Hebei province, 46 kilometers south to Beijing’s city center, 80 kilometers northwest to Tianjin and 55 kilometers north to Xiongan New Area.
 
According to a plan, the new airport will initially be able to handle 45 million passengers a year, 72 million passengers a year by 2025, and after later expansions, it will be able to handle 100 million passengers a year by 2040.
 
Not like any other airports, the new one will be a key transport hub, integrated with high speed railway, subway and roads, in Beijing’s infrastructure development and will boost the civil aviation industry in Tianjin and Hebei.
 
The new airport will serve the development of Xiongan New Area, “a thousand-year project,” and will push ahead the integrity of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.
 
During a visit to the construction site of the new airport on February 23, 2017, President Xi Jinping said that the new airport should play the role of a new source of energy for the country’s development.
 
Dong Zhiyi, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said that it was the first time that an airport has been given such a high importance. 
 
The administration has considered how to build and operate well the airport and how to better fulfill the airport’s role in boosting the economic and social development.
 
Yao Yabo, commander-in-chief of the new airport’s construction headquarters, said that the construction of the new airport will follow President Xi’s instructions to create a safe, green, intelligent and convenient airport.
 
The new airport would feature both high quality and good appearance, setting up standards and an example in airport construction, said Yao.
 
Phoenix spreading out wings
 
The Beijing Capital International Airport had its 90 millionth passenger on December 14, 2016, and that year the number of passengers reached 94.393 million. In 2017, the figure reached 95.79 million.
 
For eight consecutive years, the Beijing Capital International Airport that is designed with a capacity of 76 million passengers has been the second-busiest airport after the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. 
 
As the busiest airport in China, the Beijing Capital International Airport has always reached its designated capacity earlier and the expansions could not cope with the increase in passengers.
 
According to the feasibility report on the Beijing new airport, the number of passengers in Beijing is expected to reach 140 million in 2020, 170 million by 2025 and 235 million by 2040. 
 
Since 1993, Beijing started to look for a site for a new airport, and in 2006, a new round was launched to find a better site. After comparing more than 10 sites in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei till 2009, the new site was chosen in Daxing.
 
Authorities started to collect concept designs of the new airport in 2010 and the final bidding round was launched in 2011. Some prestigious international architecture and engineering firms took part in the bidding.
 
ADP Ingenierie’s single concept design was declared the winner.  
 
Ma Long, an architect from the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design, said after ADPI’s concept, the design work was done by a domestic alliance, Foster+Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects. The alliance consists of China Aviation Planning and Design Institute and Beijing Institute of Architectural Design.
 
ADPI’s design shows that the airport's terminal buildings will consist of a centerpiece and five arms resembling a phoenix spreading out its wings, and an arm for entry and exit. 
 
Wang Xiaoqun, another architect from Beijing Institute of Architectural Design, said that the ADPI’s design could win because its radial distribution solved the problem of more places for flights and short distances for passengers to walk.
 
Zaha Hadid Architects was invited to join ADPI to form a joint team to better the concept design, and later their design was handed to the domestic alliance. 
 
Wang said that the design period was short. Since the alliance received the design by the end of 2014, they optimized the concept design by March 2015 and then set technical indicators in August 2015. 
 
According to the design, the flowing roof of more than 180,000 square meters is supported by eight C-style columns and 12 columns, and the distance between two C-style columns reaches 200 meters.
 
Green and challenges
 
The construction of the new airport terminals started in October 2015.
 
Guo Yanchi, chief engineer of the new airport, said that the plan has changed a little in consideration of cost, the far-end corridor’s width reduced from 46 to 42 meters, and the length cut from 630 to 600 meters, and the terminal’s height reduced from 80 meters to 50 meters. The gate positions reduced from 84 to 79.
 
The design is highlighted with five courtyards of Chinese culture at the terminals, including silk, tea, porcelain, farmland and Chinese gardens, Guo said. As a new gateway of the capital and the country, the airport demonstrates Chinese culture.
 
Guo said that the new airport will have high efficiency due to a systematic planning and structural features, including efficient air control, runway structure, the layout of terminal buildings, and comprehensive transport system.
 
Chen Songlin, an engineer from the Civil Aviation Administration, said that a new air control project on the border of Beijing and Hebei is under construction, including two parts for the terminal area and the airport.
 
The new airport has two floors for departure, the first of its kind worldwide, Wang Xiaoqun said. It aims to meet the demands of lots of vehicles to stop, he said.
 
The design of the new airport incorporates a people-centered concept, with numerous service devices, such as fountain machines, ATM machines, and special rooms for taking care of children, changing clothes and prayers.
 
Yao Yabo said that the new airport will have one runway that could eliminate snow automatically to ensure the airport’s operation in heavy snow. The concept of green has been embedded in its design and construction and will be followed in its operation, Yao said.
 
Guo said that the new airport will consume 20% less energy than other airports of the same size. The airport also has a water recycling and reuse system covering the whole area, he said.
 
The mega project has also brought huge challenges. 
 
The new airport terminal was the largest single building in China, with 1,144 meters from east to west and 996 meters from north to south, said Shu Weinong, chief engineer of the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design.
 
The center concrete plate was the largest one with 518 meters long and 395 meters wide, and workers had adopted new technologies to control the cracks due to concrete contraction under different temperatures, Shu said.
 
The new airport will be a transport hub, integrated with high-speed railway, and the high-speed trains running at 300 kilometers per hour passing the airport buildings. Preventing vibration was a problem. 
 
Guo said that to ensure the anti-vibration safety, isolation technique was adopted, and 1,152 bearings were installed in the central area to form a flexible connection between upper structure and the lower structure.
 
Growth engine
 
China’s civil aviation industry has kept double-digit growth for more than 30 years, Feng Zhenglin, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said on January 31 at a meeting of civil aviation ministers from the Asia and Pacific economies.
 
Feng said that China has become the largest air transport market in the region, and in 2017, airports in China handled 552 million trips, contributing 25 percent to the world’s civil aviation growth and 55 percent to the region.
 
“The economy has entered a new normal, and the civil aviation industry has maintained fast growth. In 2016, the total volume of transportation has increased 12.5 percent and in 2017 the figure neared 13 percent,” said Hu Huaqing, a researcher with the China Academy of Civil Aviation Science and Technology.
 
Cao Yunchun, director of the Airport Economics Institute at the Civil Aviation University of China, said that the new airport is seen as a new engine for the country’s development, which means it should be built as a key global transport hub.
 
The new airport should lead the opening-up of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, coordinating the international and domestic “two markets and two resources,” launching more routes and flights and actively promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, Cao said.
 
The special location of the new airport will help better connect Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei through its comprehensive transportation system, boosting the development of airport cluster and cities, Cao said.
 
How to balance the traffic flows among airports in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei has been a problem for some years, and in 2015, situations changed after Hebei Airport Management Holding Co was put under Capital Airports Holding Co.
 
Yao said that after Capital Airport Holding realized unified operation management of airports in the three places, the ratio of passenger throughput in Beijing, Tianjin and Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei, has changed from 79.3:14.2:6.5 in 2016 to 75.1:16.5:8.4. 
 
When the construction of the new airport began, authorities started the planning of the economic zone around it. The National Development and Reform Commission in 2016 issued the planning of the economic zone between 2016 and 2020.
 
To fulfill the radiating role of the new airport, Beijing and Hebei cooperated to build the economic zone. 
 
Yao said that the central government planned more than 1,000 square kilometers of area around the new airport as the economic zone, and the core area is 150 square kilometers.
 
The Airport Economics Institute at the Civil Aviation University of China has received the assignment from Beijing and Hebei to make an overall industrial planning of the economic zone (150 square kilometers).
 
Cao said that there will be more types of industries in the zone, especially focusing on air logistics, modern service industry, aerospace industry and the headquarters of companies.

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