Belfast International Airport – Various Projects

Belfast International Airport (“BIA”), also commonly known as Aldergrove Airport, is the largest and busiest airport in Northern Ireland and second busiest in the whole of Ireland after Dublin Airport, handling well in excess of 4 million passengers a year. In addition to its importance in relation to civil aviation, BIA is also one of the most important regional airfreight centres in the UK.

Doran Consulting has over 30 years experience in providing advice to BIA, having been commissioned to provide a range of civil and structural engineering services in relation to various development works for the airport.

Structural Advice - Project Phoenix

To speed up passenger flow through the airport and improve generally passenger facilities, BIA have invested in a large scale development programme, the first phase of which was ‘Project Phoenix’, which involved the construction of a new first floor building for presentation queuing and access to the airside departures concourse, relocation of central search facilities and a reconfiguration of the duty free area with creation of 20 retail, food and beverage outlets.

Doran Consulting was commissioned to provide structural advice for this refurbishment and extension project, which was carried out under an NEC3 contract.  As the works were being carried out in an operational airport, they had to be phased to avoid aircraft movements and co-ordinate with operational and security requirements whilst maintaining passenger flows. We were also commissioned to provide civil engineering design advice in relation to this development.

Other Structural Projects

New South Pier

Doran Consulting was commissioned to provide structural advice for the construction of this 1,700m2 2-storey steel framed passenger access pier with associated bridge links and tie in structures to the existing terminal. The pier was designed using structural steelwork framing with reinforced concrete pad foundations. Profiled metal deck floors with in situ concrete topping were designed to act compositely with the steelwork beams on the first floor. Prefabricated steelwork and phasing of the works was utilised to speed up construction and maintain both passenger and aircraft flows.

South Pier Retail Extension

This new airside extension involved the construction of a 500m2 elevated first floor retail area. Prefabricated structural steelwork was utilised to support a profiled metal deck plan with in situ concrete topping and an insulated monopitch roof. Deep trench fill foundations were necessary to support structure above.

Lift at Lounge 20

This project involved the construction of a new lift to serve the existing International Pier. It required structural alterations to the existing foundations and steelwork frame was necessary.

New Pre-Boarding Zone at Gate 19

We provided design advice in relation to the construction of a new 170m2 pre-boarding zone on the ground floor, with 100m2 new toilet facilities on the first floor.  As this extension was located airside, prefabricated steelwork was utilised for speed of construction.  Deep lean mix foundations were necessary to reach sound bearing and the upper floor consisted of a profiled metal deck with in situ concrete topping.

West Apron Walkway

A 150m long arrivals and departures walkway was constructed to provide access to the new West Apron stands. A reinforced concrete raft foundation was used to support steelwork portal frames. A new lift shaft and double staircase were added at one end of the walkway to provide access to the International Pier.  

Aircarft Hangar Inspection

Doran Consulting was commissioned to undertake structural inspections to Hangar 145 and produce a condition report on this steelwork framed structure, comprised of 12 main trusses supported on steelwork columns, with a roof comprised of timber purlins supporting layers of timber sarking, roofing felt and corrugated asbestos cement sheeting. We completed a condition report detailing the effect of age and exposure to the protective paint system and the steelwork.

Alterations to Fire Station

We were commissioned in relation to this refurbishment project to the existing reinforced concrete framed Fire Station at the airport. Major structural alterations were required to the existing framing to create new space for the station. Phasing of the works was required to keep the station operational during the construction stages.  

New "Met Office" Building 

This new steel framed building was built to provide office accommodation at ground level, with access to weather monitoring equipment at first floor level.

Civil Engineering Advice

New Goods Delivery Area

We were commissioned to provide civil engineering design and site supervision services in relation to a new goods delivery area for the shops and restaurants within the terminal building.

West Apron Stands

This project involved the construction of 5,200m2 of new concrete apron stands with associated drainage works.

East Apron Stands

This project involved the construction of 1,800m2 of new concrete apron stands.

West Cargo Apron Stands

This project involved the construction of 9,000m2 of new concrete apron stands and associated drainage works. As part of the works a new reinforced concrete culvert was constructed under the apron.

East Apron Extension

Doran Consulting was commissioned to provide design advice for a 17,000 m2 apron extension. These works also included construction of flood protection measures to areas of the airport terminal which were prone to flooding.

New Cargo Aprons

Doran Consulting provided civil design advice, project management and contract administration in relation to the construction of 6,000m2 of new cargo aprons, including ground improvement and drainage works as part of the project.

New Fire Training Area

This project involved the construction of 7,800 m2 of new reinforced concrete hard standings, associated infrastructure and drainage works and environmental protection works to create a new fire training area.

Rationalisation of Roads & Carparks  

Doran Consulting provided civil engineering design services when the passenger set-down and pick-up areas and short and medium stay carparking were rationalised to accommodate increases in passenger numbers. The road system was realigned and the entrance/ exit systems to the carparks re-organised. In addition, a new 1.2km spine required to service a business park was also commissioned.

Replacement of Drainage Channels, West Aprons

Doran Consulting was appointed to investigate the state of the existing drainage channels throughout the West Aprons. The investigation recommended the replacement of the existing channels with new. We then project managed the works to replace approximately 1.2km of drainage channel throughout the international and cargo aprons and primary taxi lanes. A detailed programme and phasing for the works was developed to ensure that impact on the day-to-day running of the airport was not adversely impacted.

Drainage Study

We carried out a desk study into the existing storm drainage system at the airport with particular emphasis being placed on drainage of the existing aprons and effects of future planned extensions of the aprons.

Traffic Impact Assessments

A Traffic Impact Assessment was undertaken in support of a planning application for a mixed use development, to include office space, business units and cargo warehouses, on non-operational lands within the BIA complex. After negotiations with the Roads Service concerning the design of site access arrangements and off-site highway improvements, planning permission was granted.


Doran Consulting was engaged for several years by BIA to carry out environmental monitoring including an options study for the management of runoff water.

Environmental Monitoring 

BIA is consented to discharge treated water to several discharge points.  Compliance with the consents requires BIA to monitor the chemical quality of the discharges, surface water and groundwater.  BIA is also required to monitor the biological quality of surface waters, by invertebrate enumeration (number of taxa, the biotic score and ASPT). For several years, we have carried out this work on behalf of BIA. We have collected, had analysed and provided an interpretative report on the analysis of:

  • Surface water samples for general chemical quality;
  • Groundwater samples for chemical groundwater quality indicators;
  • Treated runoff water from potentially contaminated areas to screen for a variety of heavy metals and trace organic compounds;
  • Biological water quality at surface water sites.

Environmental Engineering

Doran Consulting was commissioned by BIA to carry out an appraisal study and make recommendations for the management of runoff water from certain hardstanding areas that are treated with de-icing chemicals during the winter months.  We modelled runoff events, concentrations of de-icer chemicals and made recommendations for measures to control and treat the runoff to reduce the environmental impact of the de-icing operations.

Master Planning

Doran Consulting was appointed as part of a team with MAP and RPS to prepare a Masterplan for BIA. The Masterplan was in response to the Government White Paper ‘The Future of Air Transport’ which set out the vision for the sustainable development of airport capacity in the UK up to 2030.

BIA handled approximately 5 million passengers in 2005 and this is expected to increase to approximately 7 million by 2015 and 10.4 million by 2030.

The Masterplan considered the impact of this passenger growth on infrastructure, surface access and the environment, and we were tasked in particular with assessing surface access. This involved looking at the existing surface access infrastructure and carrying out traffic surveys to understand existing traffic distribution and growth in relation to the airport. The Roads Service and Translink were consulted and an overview was made on future surface access infrastructure from 2006 to 2015 and 2016 to 2030.   

CDM Co-ordination

For all of the BIA projects detailed above, Doran Consulting also acted as CDM Co-ordinator in accordance with the Construction Design & Management Regulations.  Our role included producing the relevant Health and Safety pre- tender documentation and compiling the project Health and Safety files.

All works were carried out in the live surroundings of the busy airport and all were therefore subject to pre-planning, risk assessment and early production of method statements for discussion with the client to address risk mitigation and minimise service disruption.