Drive Through Airport by
Büro für MEHR


Drive Through Airport by Büro für MEHR

Creative studio Büro für MEHR has designed a concept for a drive-through airport that processes planes like a car wash.

Drive Through Airport by Büro für MEHR

Aircraft handling would be spilt into three phases: arrival, servicing and departure, arranged in a linear format.

Drive Through Airport by Büro für MEHR

Planes would arrive under an elevated terminal and unload passengers before moving forward to the next station for servicing, freeing up the arrival bay for the next aircraft.

Drive Through Airport by Büro für MEHR

After refueling and cleaning the plane would move on again to the departure gate for passengers to board before vacating for take off.

Drive Through Airport by Büro für MEHR

The three-station system would allow three planes to be processed in each lane at any given time and therefore reduce the number of required gates by two-thirds.

Drive Through Airport by Büro für MEHR

This more compact airport would shorten distances from the runway to the terminal and reduce fuel consumption.

Drive Through Airport by Büro für MEHR

Passengers would embark directly from the departure lounge instead of having to walk long distances to their designated gates.

Drive Through Airport by Büro für MEHR

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Drive Through Airport by Büro für MEHR

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Drive Through Airport by Büro für MEHR

Here is some information from the designers:

Drive Through Airport
A new concept for an airport passenger terminal of the future
by Büro für MEHR

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.

How does Drive Through Airport work?

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 six 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

Sustainability through efficiency is Drive Through Airport is the greenest airport concept.

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. DDrive Through Airport is as green as an airport can be.

  • Lisko

    Not sure that squeezing all these planes, passengers and activities in such a small space is a good idea. I’m not sure this is safe. And I don’t mind 5-10 minutes walk to my gate instead of shoooopping.

  • rohtmuz

    this would just never work, imagine if there was a delay in one plane at the front, the rest behind would be stuck waiting for the front plane to leave! There's a reason why air ports are designed like they are. Because they work!

    And as for saving fuel witha shorter taxiing distance to the runway, that is ridiculous! Compared to the fuel used flying it is minimal, a more efficient plane/alternative power source for flying would be a better solution!

  • Rich Shadrin

    Consider installing a sub-surface catapult-like device to move the aircraft eliminating the need for the engines (except for the APU) to run constantly. Also, if a plane does break down it can be shunted to another ‘track’ to a servicing area.

  • mic

    Didn’t read the whole text, so maybe I missed the point, but the moving plane diagram looks like instead of 1 stand/one plane/45 minutes, you have 3 stands/3 planes/45 minutes? What kind of trick is that?

    OK, so you might save a little space in exchange for doing 3 times the procedure of attaching the bridge/corridor and running the risk of delays, if there’s any technical/schedule problem anywhere in the row…

    I actually like projects that look at things in a completely new way, but at current airport/airplane technology this seems impossible.

  • khanhafeez

    Gr8 idea but is it predictable in real life, when any aircraft arrives it take at least one and half hours to cool down his engines, and the passengers’ luggage and other formalities also take some time.

    Airports like London, Chicago, where planes arrived and departures with a span of minutes, how is it possible to adopt the procedure laid down by the designer? It’s possible to work in small airports but not airports which are handling hundred and thousands of flights daily.

  • less is more

    @ rohtmuz, mic and co.

    – do you honestly believe, someone would make such an effort without having solved those issues?
    – it’s just mathematics, no tricks !
    Instead of 1 stand / 1 plane / 45 mins it’s 3 stands / 3 planes / 15 mins. So in 45 mins those 3 stands already process 9 planes instead of 3! GOT IT?

    – besides, u only move those bridges twice instead of once. 1x arrival, 1x departure. But you only need 1/3 of the amount of bridges compared to a regular airport.
    So just read and think before comment the next time…

    I would love to get in and out of the plane faster and with 2 bridge connections and I don’t believe current airports work…


  • lUkE

    This is a poor copy of a master work from a student of the university of applied arts Vienna, studio Greg Lynn

    • skywalker

      It is the same dude! No copy, improvement! Check the bio…

  • Mario

    Nice concept. Unfortunately the designers knew very little of modern airport and airline turnaround processes: How about the time that is lost tugging the aircraft from stand to stand? Refuelling in three steps causes unnecessary additional work and hazards. How about delays, reroutings, and a subsequent holdup of the entire queue? With all necessary systems running you simply can't switch ground-power on and off three times within 45 minutes. A running APU is a no-go for the obvious constructional / safety reasons.

    Let alone the tremendous costs of putting the entire pier and terminal on columns, I'm also more than sure most budiling codes and governmental regulations do not like the idea of a fuel filled metal and composite can underneath a fragile structure such a passenger terminal is.

  • worried

    @ mario

    deplaning a 737 takes less than 5 mins. with 2 doors even less. than the next 5 mins you can spend for wheelchaired passengers. tugging between 2 stands can take 1-2 mins. it should be included.

    neither engines nor APU would need to be switched on. u can install an electrical pulling track. the texhnology exist already.

    about the tremendous costs: heathrow t5 has multiple levels and claims to have europes largest free spanning roof beams. it is full of escalators and elevators and in footprint probably similiar to this project. it only services less than 20 midsize gates plus 2 satelites for widebodies. i dont see a big difference. i actually bet this wouldn't cost more! besides, current piers and terminals are also elevated for the obvious reasons…

    constructive criticism is welcome

  • mic

    @ less is more:

    i don't know how you ment it, but as i see the moving diagram> within 45 min. 1 plane leaves the 1 conventional stand, while 3 planes leave the "new tripple" stand. which might be little smaller than 3 conventional stands, ok, but you add on time of pushing the aircraft around 2 times and moving the bridges. obviously you also have to push the aircraft out of this tripple stand (as you do in a conventional stand).

  • This concept does not work. All aircraft in a row depend on each other. Airline ground services aren’t not integrated in the concept (ground power unit, air, blue water, etc.).

    If an aircraft has a delay (failure, passengers delay…), then all aircraft behind will have a delay too. That is typically what airlines and airport planners avoid.

    Airport planner.

    • Paul

      I read through the Drive Through Airport concept, which was submitted in more detail than above to the UK airports commission in July 2013 as proposal to deal with future aviation demand in the UK.

      I understand that all ground handling processes are covered in the concept and operational risks have been considered for mitigation. On that basis your judgement is superficial and wrong.

      Airport Planner,

  • mister airport

    @airport planner

    If you challenge the industry (pay handlers prof. wages), a delay-less operation can be guaranteed. If there is a no show of a pax or some technical problem detected, you can tow out the plane and deal at a remote position without disturbing the system.

    Power can be installed in the pulling system, if you would look at the renderings you would find brown- and blue-water pipes at the back bottom of the plane, and fueling pipes under the wings at the service station. OMG air supply can be added to the stations, what is the big deal? etc.

    People like you are the reason there is no innovation in airport design… THINK, ADAPT and INNOVATE!

    Peace, out.

    • martini-girl

      What does it have to do with pofessional wages?

      All you need is one passenger to check in but not make it to the check out gate in time and the flight is delayed. All you need is one piece of baggage that needs to be unloaded on a plane for whatever reason and the flight is delayed. All tou need is one question from any technical staff that needs to be checked for a flight to be delayed. ETC.

      And then what happens when an incoming flight is delayed so a new time is scheduled? Do all the flight schedules have to be rearranged to fit in the rogue plane?

      This is a student final year project pretending to be an experienced design concept. Nothing more. Nothing less.

  • P.Vlahodimitropoulos

    the whole discussion is indeed very enlightening. as far as I am concerned there are pluses and minuses. it's good to have new ideas on the table and try to solve any problems occur. The whole idea is too look for new innovative ways of doing what we do today trying to move forward and see things in a more sustainable and environmentally efficient future.

  • shahbaz sakarwala

    It’s not a good idea and almost impossible. Also it’s not safe in a covered area during re-fueling.

  • Joey

    Just look at the video of the China Southern aircraft that caught fire whilst refueling a couple of years ago and how quickly it got out of control. That's the reason why this would never work.

  • Tolip

    Mathematics don’t work in this case. Has anyone ever noticed the unwilling KLM ground crew turning around an aircraft at Schiphol Amsterdam? I have… for the last twenty years as an airline captain. If you could motivate these guys (and girls) to work like a formula one pit crew, maybe then you’ll be able to workout this project. Don’t forget slot times, missing pax, security, slot times, late arrivals, emergencies, technical delays etc etc. But it is always nice to dream of better “airport-world”.

  • Rae Claire

    Would make a fun toy. Remember those multi-level auto garages of the 1950s? Right now, I don’t think any airport could accommodate this assembly-line format. At best, some airports are now stocking many cots for stranded economy passengers, and incorporating pod-like rooms for the stranded posh.