Carlos Amigo, Ineco project manager for the Kuwait International Airport development plan, discusses project management in airport development.
Much has been written on project management as a discipline. It has evolved from something many have done without naming it to a fully comprehensive set of principles, tools, techniques and good practices that must have to either be learned or relearned to be a professional project manager.
Project management as a discipline relates, generally speaking, to the 'how-to' a project should be initiated, planned, executed and closed. To that end, best practices include models to define, plan and manage the scope, the time and the cost of the project, and all that is performed under a comprehensive management of communication and people - whether 'internal' people like the team or 'external' people like the customer or the suppliers. Dealing with changes in all those fields while taking care of risks and embracing opportunities is truly the key to success.
That said, developing an airport (expansion or upgrade for example) is undoubtedly a project. Can one manage it as a regular project? Can one apply project management best practices in a straightforward manner? It is very common that airport owners/managers hire the services of a project-management consultant (PMC) to deal with such a project. Definitely, this is a recursive matter and a sort of tongue-twister - to manage the application of project management to a project-management project.
First and foremost, an airport is a system; that is, a set of inter-related elements that work together for a single purpose, and that is none other than managing aircraft operation. Irrespective of all the spin-offs that one may want to consider arising from aircraft operation, it all comes down to that, as without it we have nothing - no passengers, no revenues, no ancillary business, just nothing. Aircraft operation binds all airport elements together.
When a system is expanded, whether the original decision is to expand only one element (say the passenger-terminal building) or several elements, the whole system shakes and it needs a check-up. Aprons or taxiways are commonly affected infrastructures, but also air-navigation facilities and systems, and then utilities and other services, particularly power supply and IT. Not to be missed are the new staffing requirements for the expanded airport, including hiring and training.
Add to all that the revision of the airport certification manual, the revision of airspace and aeronautical procedures, and business development (business opportunities arisen from an expanded airport), and you have the full picture. Project management for the expansion of a terminal building is certainly needed, but one also needs something else to address the impact on other elements.
To try and adapt the discipline of project management to that complexity, there needs to be a term for it; programme management does not fit (all airport projects are tightly intertwined; they are more than just a group). Let us keep it simple and name it airport project management (ApPM).
ApPM spins around two topics: integration and coordination of all concerned projects. Along with the straightforward management of the major projects, it makes up a three-tier approach, where all the project-management knowledge base is to be applied to each of them:
There are three tiers in the application of project-management discipline at an airport. The first tier is the integration - a wide-ranging project of which the management ensures a successful delivery of the airport by setting the system up. Coordination represents the second tier, and it consists of a project where interfaces between all airport projects are managed, binding them all together. And last, the third tier is the direct management of the major development projects, the driving force for airport development, where in-depth involvement to get first-hand data is required.
Three tiers of a single discipline are necessary to turn an existing airport into a new one. To expand the system but keep it running at the same time - a big challenge and a test for project management as a discipline.
Ineco is a global leader in transport engineering and consultancy. For over 40 years, its expert team of 2,500 employees has contributed to infrastructure development in the aviation, railways, roads, urban transport and ports sectors in more than 40 countries.
The challenge of optimising air transport to improve civil mobility is one of the areas where Ineco has a great level of expertise and successful references. As an expert in transport infrastructures, it is able to provide every service its clients need in all phases of a project along the life cycle of transport infrastructures, and has a high level of qualification not only in airport planning and infrastructure design, but also in systems and aeronautical navigation. Airport planning, design and integrated project management are the three main pillars of Ineco's activity in the airport business.
Ineco also helps customers to draft laws, regulations, programmes, plans and technical standards, and advises aviation authorities on restructuring and institutional strengthening. As a pioneer in airport infrastructure development in Spain, it carries out civil works projects, terminal construction, track repair and upgrades, aerodrome certification, safety studies and air traffic optimisation. Ineco also supports environmental management and internal audits at several airports worldwide. Two of the most competitive solutions offered by Ineco are operational readiness and airport transfer, which guarantee timely and efficient commissioning of air transport infrastructure.
Experience gained as the leading engineer for Spanish airport operator Aena during the expansion and modernisation of its 47 airports and two heliports in Spain has given Ineco the impetus to expand abroad, enabling it to win major contracts including:
Ineco is also an expert in air navigation planning, and participates in many projects, such as: