As a private pilot, it is my opinion that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) does a fantastic job.   The “guys and dolls” in the tower have amazing responsibilities for air safety and perform in an extremely admirable fashion. There are approximately fifteen thousand (15,000) federal air traffic controllers on the job every day at three hundred and fifteen (315) FAA air traffic facilities around the country, managing more than eighty-seven thousand (87,000) daily flights across U.S. airspace.  There is an FAA requirement that trainees begin their training at the Academy no later than their thirty-first (31st) birthday, and face mandatory retirement at age fifty-six (56). However, retired military air traffic controllers may qualify for appointment after reaching thirty-one (31) years of age.  You may ask, why retirement at such an early age? STRESS, that’s the reason.  Also, why the minimum age of thirty-one?  They do NOT want kids in the tower playing around, chasing skirts, popping bubblegum.

 I would ask you to look at the chart below and you will get some idea as to the number of passengers traveling in today’s world. Please note that in this list are four (4) airports in the United States.  Number one—Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta with 107.4 million passengers coming and going in 2018.  Can you imagine the number of flights twenty-four (24) hours a day needed to transport this many passengers?  The coordination and attention to detail is staggering.  The people in the tower do it all. 

We want to look at what will be the newest international airport – China’s Beijing Daxing International Airport.  Before we look at the digitals, let’s get background information on the airport itself. (NOTE: Information comes from ChinaDaily.com web site.)

DETAILS:

Construction of Beijing Daxing International Airport has been completed after five years of frenzied activity. When the mega-airport begins operation on September 30 of this year, it will be the world’s largest single-terminal airport at 700,000 square meters – the size of ninety-eight (98) soccer fields. The eighty (80) billion-yuan ($11.7 billion) facility, which is forty-six (46) kilometers south of downtown Beijing, will serve as a second international airport for the capital. It is designed to relieve the pressure of rising demand for air travel on Capital International Airport in northeastern Beijing.

With seven runways planned, including one for military use, the new airport will ultimately handle more than 100 million passengers a year, matching Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the United States. The US airport is currently the world’s busiest, receiving more than one hundred (100) million passengers per year, but across two terminals.  We see this from the chart above.  For Atlanta, there are two terminals, one domestic and one international.

Guo Yanchi, chief engineer in charge of construction work at the new Beijing facility, said: “The Daxing airport is the world’s largest integrated transportation hub. The terminal building is also the world’s largest built with a seamless steel structure, boasting the world’s first design of double-deck departure and double-deck arrival platforms.” This is a marvelous engineering feat and demonstrates China’s ability to create world-class structures.  We got a glimpse of that from the Olympic Summer Games a few years ago. 

In barely seven decades, China has transformed from a nation with a handful of shabby, makeshift airports to being home to aviation super-hubs – the result of the country’s rapid economic development and greater openness to the outside world.  According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, there were thirty-six (36) airports in 1949, most of which could handle only small aircraft. The number had soared to two hundred and thirty-six (236) by the end of June, with about seven new airports coming online each year in the past decade.

Beijing Capital International Airport, the first airport for commercial flights after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, featured just one 2,500-meter runway when it opened in 1958, and had a terminal covering about 100,000 square meters.

“Even during peak time, the airport was only able to handle fewer than two hundred and fifty (250) passengers per hour, most of whom were government officials,” said Liu Zhaolong, a consultant with the China Civil Airports Association, adding that ordinary citizens at that time had to buy tickets to visit the airport.  Last year, the airport, which now has three terminals but is hitting full capacity, handled more than 100 million passengers, making it the second-busiest in the world after Atlanta’s airport. (Again, please take a look at the chart above.)

China has been gearing up to boost its general aviation industry as the country undergoes a huge expansion into the world of flying, with an increasing number of Chinese taking to the skies.

Chinese airports handled 1.26 billion passenger trips in 2018, compared with four hundred and eighty-six (486) million ten (10) years ago, a year-on-year increase of eleven (11) percent, said Zhang Rui, deputy director of the administration’s Airport Department. Thirty-seven of the country’s airports handled more than ten (10) million passengers in just one year, he added.

China has built an international air network with 844 routes, connecting 167 cities in 61 countries. It has also signed intergovernmental civil air transportation agreements or established civil aviation connections with 125 countries and regions, according to the administration’s statistics in September last year.

“Historically, China’s domestic market dwarfed international services, but airlines have been rapidly stretching their wings in the past decade, thanks to the country’s reform and opening-up policy, as well as people’s soaring outbound tourism demands,” said Li Xiaojin, a professor of aviation economics at Civil Aviation University of China in Tianjin.  According to the International Air Transport Association’s forecast, China will become the world’s largest civil aviation market by 2024-25, and the air passenger volume in the Chinese market is expected to reach 1.6 billion by 2037.   Li Xunlei, chief economist for the financial institution Zhongtai Securities, said in a report that about 1 billion Chinese people have never boarded a plane, which serves as strong evidence that the country’s current airports will not be able to meet demand in just a few years. China must step up its efforts to renovate existing facilities and build new airports, the report said.

Beijing Daxing International Airport

Let’s now take a quick look at what will be the newest airport in the world.  As you will see it’s expansive.

Given below shows the basic layout of the terminal with runways on either side to facilitate access to the gates.

The drawing below is a rendition of the internal design showing the various traffic patterns and elevations. 

If you saw any of the Summer Games from China, you will recognize the “bird cage” design.  This design has been adopted for the “super-structure” for the main terminal.

Once again, we see the smooth lines and basic traffic flow internal for the terminal.

You must admit, this is a striking design using the latest engineering and architectural concepts.  I hope to travel to China some day and I certainly will book the tickets to arrive at Daxing.

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