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Airbus Arrival

27 September 2010

Manchester has become the world's latest airport to accept the Airbus A380 'super-jumbo' after a major development project that saw Costain literally prepare the ground for its arrival.

Services to Manchester by Dubai-based Emirates airline using the 517-passenger double-deck giant began this month, making it one of just 18 airports worldwide currently capable of accepting the aircraft.

Costain began work in preparation for the arrival of A380 aircraft in May 2008 with the realignment and reconstruction of taxiway routes. Work then continued with the construction of a dedicated A380 parking stand, fully equipped to service the aircraft whilst on the ground. All the pavements had to be designed and constructed to accept the aircraft's size and weight - up to 560 tonnes with a full load of passengers, cargo and fuel.

Finally, Costain has just completed a three-month period of night works across the airfield to widen access points to and from the runway to accommodate the increased width required for the aircraft to turn safely.

"We had to dig out the old apron and put in a new, deeper, thicker stand," says Guy Wooley, Costain's Framework Manager at the airport. "In terms of technical construction it was relatively straightforward. What made it difficult was that it was all carried out in the middle of a live airport. Logistically, things were a lot more difficult, as there are always access and egress problems, and the ever-present security issues."

Full service facilities to handle the aircraft also had to be incorporated. The A380 aircraft is so large that a special docking system had to be installed to give pilots the necessary guidance to line up the aircraft with the specially-modified passenger pier. The airport has also fitted a double-level air bridge to allow faster passenger boarding and disembarkation.

Costain's preparatory work for the A380 stand was instrumental in the Company receiving Manchester Airport's Contractor of the Year award - no mean feat when one considers the number of contractors employed by an airport of Manchester's size.

Manchester's 2010 Project Awards Ceremony, with guest speaker Sir Michael Latham, Chairman of the Construction Industry training Board, saw Costain receive Principal Contractor of the Year Award and a Social Commitment of the Year Award. The Subcontractor of the Year Award was won by a Costain subcontractor, Allied Drilling.

• A Partnership Day saw members of the Costain team combine recently with airport staff and members of the supply chain to give a new lease of life to a community hall in Wythenshawe. Around 20 people of the Framework Team painted and generally refreshed the facility to improve it for local residents.