In our laboratories at Cranfield we are investigating new technologies, supporting the industry in transforming and humanizing the passenger process, engaging with cities to meet the challenges of the circular economy. We are working with leading airports on innovative new airport business models and substantial reduction of emissions only possible by synchronising airport and urban processes.
  • DatesJanuary 2015 – December 2020 (six years)
  • SponsorHEIF, Aviation & Airports International, further funders to be confirmed
  • Funded£42,500
  • PartnersAirport Excellence, AiQ Consulting, AirPortr, LEITRON, planeground, Reitsema & Partners, Perkins+Will

Our research program is forging the Airport of tomorrow. In an unprecedented design-led study at our laboratories at Cranfield Airport we will reveal how airports need to address their future.  

Systematically we will deconstruct the current airport operation and movement patterns of passengers and goods to and from airports leading to a new airport model - replacing peak hour dominated planning by transforming airports into sustainable structures within a circular economy.

Exploring the carbon footprint of the airport and city ecosystems

Areas of focus

Our work will focus on three areas:

1. Passenger process

  • Simplify the passenger process within the terminal and outside, and investigate better locations for each process.
  • Detach bags from passengers – integrate baggage transport into other logistic chains and establish a new passenger end-to-end experience from departure to destination.
  • Enhance the passenger experience and re-think the journey of the passenger through sensory experiences.
  • Passengers are citizens and citizens are passengers: better utilized facilities and fill the gaps between peaks with non-aviation activities. 
  • The airport’s role within global retail streams is to be readdressed as a joint experience.

2. Movement to and from the airport

  • Introduce city-thinking in response to increased demand to shared ownership and shared live-work-travel arrangements, create new identities and environments.
  • Rethink the airport access and conceptualise the operation of driverless cars for people travelling to and working at the airport. 
  • Inspire people with easy access to and from the airport after work and take advantage of close proximity.
  • Compare the entire journey from down-town to boarding to walking distances.
  • Explore further opportunities from tracking passengers and baggage – multichannel business between airport and city. 
  • Consider airports as part of larger ecosystems and connect airports to High Speed train lines.
  • Identify synergies between airports and the local community and airlines.
  • Include the construction process as part of the airport operation.
  • Synchronize data from commonly used open data platforms to encourage collaborative growth of airports, cities and regions.

3. Terminal to aircraft

  • Explore new opportunities of faster boarding.
  • Prepare airports for new generation aircraft and associated spatial and organizational requirements. 
  • Consider the impact of electric aircraft and drones, autonomous landside and airside vehicles.
  • Robotise the aircraft operation.

News and events

 Henrik has been invited to speak at the New Civil Engineer Future of Airports 2019 in London, from 15-16 May. The three key themes in focus are sustainability, opportunity and technology. The event will provide critical debate on the biggest challenges and developments in UK aviation, as well as giving insight into the latest innovation in industry, design and construction.

Henrik spoke at the second Airport Access Ideas Forum in London in June 2018. The Forum is an event designed to highlight the key challenges airports, city planners and ground transport operators need to prepare for when planning airport access for future users.

Read his case study - 'Urban Turbine research project – taking on the future of airports'.

Airport Access Ideas Forum
Airport Access Ideas Forum, London 2017