Drive Through Airport

Drive Through Airport

Project Year

Drive Through Airport

BÜRO FÜR MEHR as Architects


Amsterdam / Vienna - Optimizing passenger terminal buildings is long overdue and requires a new concept. A drastic reduction in the size of airports would not only simplify ground handlings, but would also significantly reduce its environmental impact.

Within the next decade the amount of aviation passengers could double. It has been widely admitted that today's airports cannot cope with demand. Future expansion will create additional terminals causing bigger distances to travel, more congestion, pollution and increasingly slower handling times.


All arriving aircrafts are being sent through a path. Similar to a carwash, the main handling phases are separated into three designated stations: Arrival, Servicing, and Departure. Each station manages only one activity instead of being blocked for all three. The amount of necessary gates can be reduced by two- thirds, making the airport experience for both passengers and crews more user-friendly.

The architecture of DRIVE THROUGH AIRPORT

Processing aircrafts are covered by an elevated terminal. While the airplanes are moving through, passenger processing takes place on a level directly above. Traffic to and from the airport is situated above the servicing stations dividing the terminal into two buildings: Departure Mall above the departure stations, and Luggage Claim Hall above the arriving stations. For transfer passengers and crew there is an underpass connection.

DRIVE THROUGH AIRPORT saves time and costs

Contemporary airport layouts are determined by vast parking spaces, where aircrafts are laid out endlessly side by side. The time we spend at airports prior to flights is mostly characterized by long walks, queuing and waiting. Especially for short haul flights, time spent at airports often exceeds the actual flight time.

The prototype DRIVE THROUGH AIRPORT was developed mainly for a dense network of continental or short haul flights of narrow-body aircrafts carrying up to 200 passengers each. (ICAO Type B,C, C+ / Boeing 737s, Airbus 320s family, Embraer E170-E190s or lighter).

Based on an average turnaround time of 45 minutes leaving 15 minutes for each activity (arrival, service and departure) and on current regulations for maximum runway capacity of one landing aircraft per minute; 16 stations were laid out for each handling activity. (After 14 minutes each arrival station is freed for the following aircrafts.) One lane consists of 6 stations (two for each activity). An 8-lane prototype DRIVE THROUGH AIRPORT can handle up to 48 aircrafts at every 15 minutes, which is equivalent to a 144-gate airport with a “traditional” 45 minute stand block time.

Today, Airlines work hard to reduce grounding times and make their time tables more efficient. ("Only a flying plane is a good plane") Low Cost Carriers already have 25-30 minute turnaround times outside their home bases. A shorter total turnaround time would make DRIVE THROUGH AIRPORT even more efficient and could reduce the amount of lanes to a total of five instead of eight.

The Benefits

Besides making the airport more user-friendly for passengers and crews, all stakeholders benefit from the new concept.

With a reduced footprint, airport operators have less capital- and operational costs. Additional space becomes available for other airport related revenues. Contrary to current terminals (e.g. Schiphol), where passengers are required to leave the mall area, in order to walk to their distant boarding gates, DRIVE THROUGH AIRPORT lets passengers depart directly from a mall. So passengers can do shopping immediately before boarding.

Besides weather proof handling of the aircrafts, taxiing ways are also getting reduced. This saves fuel and increases the capacity for airlines. Transfer time for passengers and their luggage is also reduced, ultimately minimizing the number of passengers missing their connection.

Efficiency is Sustainability

Airside tarmac and energy consuming building footprint is reduced to an ultimate minimum, while the capacity of the terminal is adjusted to the amount of runways. DRIVE THROUGH AIRPORT is as green as an airport can be.

Master plan Scenarios

The following study highlights the potential of densification, applied on one of the largest and busiest airports in Europe. Amsterdam Schiphol has been expanded gradually over the last decades. For Europe it has a unique 5+1 runway system, from which maximum 3 can be used simultaneously. Currently it processes almost 50 million passengers annually. Pier M & H are used by LCC (Low Cost Carrier), while Stands B together with the Piers B, C & D are left for NC (Network Carrier)

Scenarios DRIVE THROUGH AIRPORT Prototype 1.0 applied

DRIVE THROUGH AIRPORT prototype 1.0 replacing Pier B, C & D including its remote stands. Pier M & H are refurnished to service wide-body aircrafts. The new layout allows for over twice the current capacity while the overall footprint of the airport would be reduced significantly:

DRIVE THROUGH AIRPORT Prototype 1.0 replacing Pier B stands only. Additional People-Mover connections


DRIVE THROUGH AIRPORT was presented at the

- PTE Conference 2012 April in Vienna, Austria - AirRail Conference 2012 May in Stockholm, Sweden - airportNEXT! Symposium 2012 June in Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Office Brabant
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Office Brabant

Build completed in 2020
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