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New International Airport at La Mercy Update – December 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008 | 00:00

New International Airport at La Mercy Update – December 2008

Wednesday 5th December 2008

There is a new very visible landmark on the horizon of the north coast of Durban!

It is the new air traffic tower for the new international airport at La Mercy. The cab was hoisted last week and was completed to the date as scheduled. The hoist commenced on 12th November and on 27th November the cad was secured on top of the tower.

This amazing milestone has marked the 1st visible aspect of the R7b project as you drive north. The entire cab including the aluminium facades were completed at the base of the tower while work on the columns is progressing well.

Terence Delomoney, GM: Durban International and National Airports said, “I am absolutely impressed with the progress so far and with the tower being hoisted right on schedule is indicative of our commitment to meet the deadline with this billion rand project”.

The team that constructed the tower was lead by Stuart Proudfoot, Project Manager of Ilembe EPC while the contractors were lead by Tim Cooper and Cai Reitdijk from Ilembe Buildings JV together with the structural engineers being Rob Young of Young and Satharia and Marius Nel of BKS. The project involved about 150 to 180 people as part of the team that built the tower. As part of the design team, Marius Nel who played a major role in the concrete design of the shaft unfortunately did not get to see the finished product as he tragically passed away in an accident.

Sean van der Valk, ACSA Project Manager said, “ACSA has and will continue to ensure that BBBEE is a major part of this project and the tower was proof of that. The tower substation is being constructed by black women owned construction company, Tarrice Trading. The architectural team was lead by Mangaliso Shabangu and Tapiwa Muvevi of Shabangu Architects with Ms Kaswii Omandi was the lead design architect for the building”.

Van der Valk continued, “The tower as part of this Greenfield project has its own set of challenges, complexities but is a true testament of the architectural principle of “form follows function”.

The cone shaped glass tower has a 360 degree panoramic view of the airport precinct and makes it possible and functional for the air traffic controllers an unobstructed view of all moving aircraft in and around the airport. The 64m tower was challenging in terms of the shear size of the cab. The amount of steel and tolerances that were used during the construction was part of this challenge. Part of the plan was to innovatively minimise the amount works at high level so it was decided that the glazing, cladding and a vast amount of bondec stabbing was completed while the cab was at the base of the tower before it was hoisted.

Stuart Proudfoot, Ilembe Project Manager said, “Part of the challenge was designing the thinnest window mullions possible which will simultaneously carry the roof load. Also the facility includes an unique aspect of dual redundancy of all services which meant the provision of twice the service voids compared to a normal building and the hollow concrete tower provided this sufficient space. The tilt angle design also serves a function of reducing or minimising, besides the glare of the sun, more to keep the ATCs (air traffic controllers) from being distracted by the reflections caused by computer screens”.

At 55m high, which is the ATC eye level height, the cabs view is visible and attractive at a considerable distance. The neutral textures and colours used is certainly not to compete with the natural skyline but was chosen by ACSA and coincidently is very close to the ACSA corporate colours. Once all the necessary construction aspects were completed the 260 tonne cab was hoisted at a rate of 85 to 100mm hour and took 2 weeks to complete. The team also had to deal with weather conditions during the hoist and a recent major storm actually stopped the hoist in the 3rd day which meant that all works came to halt and the cab had to be secured while suspended until the weather conditions improved.

The tower is approximately 64m above the ground and about 450 cubic meters of concrete was used on the tower shaft, together with 120 tons of structural steel and almost 140 tons of glass and cladding was used in the construction. The project still has some areas to be completed before the final hand over in 2009. The roof will be completed by January 2009 and the crane should be demobilised in February next year and then the offices will be completed at the base in April with testing and commissioning done before the handover to ATNS.

While the 1st milestone is being celebrated the completion of the control tower, the terminal building structure is progressing well and it is envisaged that all major structural elements of work, with the exception of the south elevated roadway, should be completed by the end of the year. With the festive season shut down almost around the corner, the focus is now turned to slabs that require to be propped in the baggage handling areas of the terminal. This will allow that the baggage system installation will have uninterrupted access when it is installed in the 1st part of January 2009.

Together with the terminal building, the airside corridor is well on schedule. Sean van der Valk, ACSA Project Manager said, “We are currently investigating the seating layouts and allocating of space for stakeholders and airline offices. This involves high level consultations with our stakeholders and the design teams”.

The multi storey parking, fire and rescue building and the cargo terminal projects are on track in terms of construction and final designs and office layouts. With the floor slabs already completed in the cargo terminal the progress in well on schedule. The dry chemical powder storage area and the training facility at the fire and rescue building are still well on track.

The runway, taxiways and aprons construction is progressing well and the construction of the alpha apron concrete pavements have commenced and are on schedule. The sub base construction of the 3,7km runway has been completed and that includes the bulk earthworks on the approach areas. The various aprons; Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and Echo are well in progress with construction with layer works completed.

With this multi billion rand project taking rapid shape, ACSA had to ensure that certain unique and 1st time features, such as the air bridges are properly procured and also that due to the fact that this equipment is being customed built in Spain, a technical team was sent to that country to ensure that the factory acceptance tests were completed before the bridges were shipped to Durban.

Van der Valk said, “The factory acceptance tests are very crucial to this project and we will be sending teams to ensure other procured bulk elements meet our requirements and are tested before it is delivered and installed. Now with the festive season around the corner, the site will be shutting down all major construction work from 12th December to 5th January 2009. We will obliviously have certain crucial staff on site including a security contingent to ensure the site is safe and secure during the festive break”.

Issued by  :  
Colin Naidoo
Manager: Communications and Brand
Durban International and National Airports
Airports Company South Africa

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