London Luton Airport – transformation and expansion

Terminal exterior - London Luton Airport, 2018. (c)LLA

Terminal exterior - London Luton Airport, 2018. (c)LLA


Matthew Pierpoint. Ramboll

Matthew Pierpoint

Aviation Global Divisional Director
T: +44 7970 285 129

A vast expansion of London Luton Airport’s Passenger Terminal over three years has achieved ambitious plans for the terminal to play an increasingly important role in the UK’s aviation network. The transformation will increase the airport’s annual capacity by 50% to 18 million passengers by 2020.

This latest phase of expansion is the most recent role Ramboll has played in the development of the Airport from the terminal’s original construction to its latest expansion. Ramboll’s a long history of working on the redevelopment of London Luton Airport (LLA) including:

2013–2015 Terminal redevelopment and expansion

The £160m redevelopment completed in 2018 was the biggest in the airport’s 80-year history. It involved the upgrade and significant extension of the terminal and its facilities to make passengers’ journeys easier, quicker and more enjoyable. This included the airport’s terminal, transport links, infrastructure accessibility as well as a new parallel taxiway and work to the aprons.

With architect Pascall + Watson, Ramboll was appointed to provide a full multidisciplinary engineering service to remodel and modernise the airport terminal, and also for subsequent extension and refurbishment.

Our designs have provided sustainable, economic solutions to extend and alter the existing buildings within a live airport environment.

Transforming London Luton Airport time-lapse from London Luton Airport. The video shows many of the works designed by Ramboll.

We were responsible for the terminal and landside engineering design up to the tender stage, which included:

  • Construction of a new Pier B, link bridge, bus canopy, pedestrian link bridge and Onward Travel Centre
  • Extension of the existing Pier A, Immigration Hall, Security Area, Arrivals Hall and Departures Lounge
  • Refurbishment of the Baggage Reclaim Hall.

We provided: Structural Engineering; Geotechnical Engineering; Civil Engineering; Building Services; Acoustics; CDMC and Fire Engineering.

As part of the terminal redevelopment there was extensive remodelling of the bus and coach interchange, improved access to and from the M1, expansion of the car parking provision and works to the aprons and taxiways. The detailed design for this included of the following elements:

  • Dual Carriageway access road
  • Mid-term car park signalised junction
  • Mid-term car park extension
  • Short term car park (STCP) extension and reconfiguration
  • Bus Terminal
  • Drop off zone
  • Off-site car park operators drop off zone
  • Taxi rank
  • Goods in/waste away area

We provided: Highway design; Geotechnical design; Hostile vehicle mitigation design; Ecology.

2013-2014 New stand area at East Pier for London Luton Airport

Luton Airport needed a new stand area at the East Pier for short and medium haul aircraft. The area allocated for the new stands was very limited and required creative solutions for areas for aircraft parking, passenger access, aircraft handling, ground service equipment and service roads.

Ramboll undertook the work with simulation of aircraft movement on the limited area to optimize the design of the aircraft stands. Ramboll brought added value to the project by highlighting issues with regards to for instance jet blast from the aircraft during parking and other manoeuvring.

The six new aircraft stands were designed for Code C aircraft like A320 or Boeing 737 and for flexible use for Boeing 767-200 aircraft.

We provided: Design of aircraft stands; Simulation of aircraft movement; Simulation of vehicle and passenger movement.

1997–1999 New terminal for Foster and Partners and London Luton Airport

The main feature of the development phase in 1998 was a terminal made from steel and glass, featuring an aerofoil roof and large internal column-free space. We helped to design the vast internal column free space to maximise both capacity and visibility.

The emphasis of the building is on steel, both aesthetically and structurally. Four thousand tonnes of steel were used to construct the frame, with steelwork exposed internally and externally. The walls are of profiled steel with a glazed wall on the landside and a strip of glazing airside.

The curved aerofoil roof and airside under-croft for traffic and loading were designed in response to studies of wind and jet blast.

We provided: Structural engineering and Aviation services

1995 Access road design and construction

In 1995 Ramboll (then Gifford) was appointed on the design and construction of a £4m major access road from the public highway network to the airport terminal. The 2.3km scheme was for a new road to cross the existing taxiway in a cut and cover underpass.

Taxiway diversions were needed to construct the underpass, and this required a design for temporary runway pavement construction.

The underpass is a 95m reinforced concrete two span box structure. One span carries the new access road and the other was left for either a second carriageway or a future light railway.

An important part in the award of the contract was the underpass road alignment and landscaping. These were designed sensitively to maximise the visual impact to the approach of the airport.

We provided structural engineering and road engineering services, obtained technical approval for the underpass and consent from local and national authorities.

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