When the Greater Toronto Airports Authority added a mezzanine level to Pearson International's new terminal to separate Canada-US passengers from domestic and international travelers and changed the shape of the building's airside edge, it gained some unexpected advantages.
"The interstitial level functions very, very well," says Lloyd A. McCoomb, GTAA VP-planning and development. It brings arriving transborder passengers from the concourse directly above bag claim, where they can look down and see exactly where their checked baggage will come out. Departing passengers without luggage to check can park in the new garage and walk through an enclosed corridor at the mezzanine level directly to the transborder area, where they check themselves in and go through security.
At Air Canada's suggestion, the terminal design was changed from one that put domestic, transborder and international traffic on different piers to one that "wraps transborder around" the airside edges of Piers D, E and F. Originally, D was to handle domestic, E was transborder and F international. With the new plan, E serves domestic and transborder and F will handle transborder and international. "We lose the simplicity of the concept of separate sectionsit is somewhat less intuitive," McCoomb notes. "What we gain is we can make these swing gates, which gives us flexibility and much greater convenience for transfer passengers."
Another change was curving the airside of the piers, producing a scalloped design "that gives us some deeper areas in the joints of the building" with more space for passenger handling and amenities.
When Pier F opens in late 2006 or early 2007, its 23 gates and hammerhead end will be "the centerpiece of the airport," McCoomb says, with a variety of shops and food and beverage outlets. Nearly 300 ft. long, F will have high-speed moving walkways. Two of its gates will accommodate A380s. A G pier is to be built later as traffic grows. The new Terminal 1 is the major element in Toronto's C$4.5 billion redevelopment and expansion program. Its first phase provides 14 loading-bridge gates and nine commuter parking positions. The second section, 10 gates on Pier E, went into service Nov. 1.
A design element of which McCoomb is especially proud is the exit from the international clearance hall to the meet-and-greet area outside baggage claim. Arriving passengers will walk up a gentle slope and then down another on a ramp that splits into two sections to encircle and then join the people below. This will give both groups time to see and identify each other while separating the outbound stream from the waiting crowd.
Fourteen-year-old Terminal 3 is being expanded and modernized in a C$320 million project that will give it the ability to handle more traffic, plus A380 operations. The original architects were hired to update and enlarge the dramatically curved glass-and-steel building. Eight gates have been added to its Pier C, along with increased bag claim and makeup space and an in-line screening system that will handle all T-3 outbound baggage. Glidepath Canada Ltd. is the contractor for the baggage system upgrade. Passengers using the 50 new check-in counters can look through the building's glass walls to the airfield. A new pedestrian tunnel connects T-3's terminal and garage.
The west section of this terminal is being enlarged and reconfigured for transborder traffic in a project to be completed in April. This can be expanded later, and an apron-level commuter lounge added, if traffic warrants.
Pearson's terminals have a common-use passenger-processing system using CUTE and CUSS, and have had common-use self-service kiosks since April 2004, explains James Burke, the airport authority's VP-IT and telecommunications. "Common-use works fine," John Segaert, Air Canada's GM for Toronto Airport, assures AE&T. "We worked very closely with the airport authority as they were commissioning the building, working on integrating applications. We had no glitches . . . not one problem to speak of. People were astounded."
The authority is creating a campus area IT network to supply everyone on the airport with voice, data, video and Internet. All phones are VoIP. "This could generate nonaviation revenue from network users," Burke notes. A wireless LAN tracks all baggage moving through the airport.
When GTAA took over Pearson from the Canadian government in December 1996, the airport had enough capacity for 28 million passengers, according to Steve Shaw, GTAA VP-corporate affairs and communications. "We expect the Toronto area to grow by 2 million people in the next decade, and 47% of all people coming to Canada come through Toronto," he says. The T-1 project and upgrade to T-3 are scaled for 50 million annual passengers.
"The old Terminals 1 and 2 were obsolete," McCoomb adds. Long, narrow T-2 "was originally conceived as a cargo building." The old T-1 has disappeared, while parts of T-2 already have been demolished to make way for the new T-1; the rest of it will come down in 2007. An old cargo area was knocked down and a new C$300 million, three-building cargo village created between the runways. GTAA has built two new runways, the last finished in 2002, giving Pearson a total of five. The longest is 11,050 ft. long and 200 ft. wide. The airport plans another as traffic grows. It bought a section of freeway so it could replace the old, convoluted airport road system, investing C$350 million in roads, bridges and utilities. A new six-pad deicing facility with an elaborate runoff control system was built on the field.
Pearson served 28.6 million passengers last year. McCoomb expects between 29.7 million and 30 million this year and up to 31.3 million in 2006. Some 20%-30% of these passengers connect at Toronto. Air Canada accounts for nearly half the airport's total traffic and connects 40%-45% of its customers. It operates as many as 360 daily flights with about 40% of its traffic domestic, 35% transborder and 25% international. It also handles most of its Star Alliance partners at Toronto.
"You bet we'll be happy to move" into new facilities, Segaert says. "It will be a wonderful day when we have everything under one roof. It's been a big challenge" working out of multiple terminals. When Pier F opens, Air Canada will shift its operations once more to put all its international traffic there. It will have about 60 gates in the completed T-1. Until then it is using an 11-gate infield terminal for transborder and international flights on aircraft no larger than its CRJs, busing passengers to and from the main terminal. Its new Embraer 175s and 190s cannot operate there. After Pier F opens, McCoomb says, the fate of the officially temporary infield building "will be dependent on the aviation needs of the airport."
Despite Segaert's enthusiasm for the new terminal, he is aware that "our costs are going up considerably . . . our costs went up in excess of C$100 million a year" with the opening of T-1. Eliminating the bus trips to the infield terminal won't be a significant cost saving, he says. "Only through volume or more nonaviation revenue will our costs go down. Unit costs will decrease as volumes go up." But he notes that the new facilities permit the carrier to expand its operations: "This year we have launched a whole bunch of new nonstops to Asia. Toronto is far and away" the national carrier's No. 1 hub. "Toronto is the centerpiece of the Air Canada operation."
Terminal 3 will remain a separate, freestanding building for many years, McCoomb says. "The long-term view is that the new terminal will grow over and replace it in maybe 30 or 40 years." To eliminate the buses now connecting the terminals and the remote parking lot, the airport will open LINK, an automated cable-liner shuttle system on a dual elevated guideway, in February. The system was built by DDC Doppelmayr Cable Car, a subsidiary of the Austrian Dopplemayr/Garaventa Group. GTAA has C$25 million in government money for a future train station to connect the airport and downtown Toronto.
Looking to the day when the city's air traffic outgrows Pearson's capacity, GTAA has revived a 30-year-old plan to build what Shaw describes as "a regional reliever airport" on an 18,600-acre site in the government-owned Pickering Lands 30 mi. northeast of the city. The environmental assessment process is underway for a two-runway general aviation facility opening in 2012. Development will be demand-driven, authority officials emphasize, with projections calling for three runways, the longest 10,000 ft., and full passenger, cargo and maintenance facilities by 2032.
Segaert is skeptical about the need for the Pickering project now. Pointing out that Pearson has no significant congestion or delay problems and plenty of new terminal space coming online, he says there is "a long way to go until traffic gets to that point" of needing a second airport. "A lot of cities, once they have two airports, they often suffer," he says. "You scare away connecting traffic." While he believes that "it's always prudent to be looking ahead," he adds, "This is not the time to be spending any money on it."
"We have schizophrenic doors at the airport," says Toronto Pearson's Lloyd A. McCoomb. "There are 890 doors in the first section of Terminal 1; 185 of them are life-safety doors, with fire alarms, and 341 of them are on the primary security lines. Some are both. Some have a security warning strobe light and another, red, strobe light for fire alarms." These strobes must be synchronized precisely, he notes, to avoid triggering seizures in susceptible people. "For security, the door wants to lock down and keep everyone in. For a fire, it wants to open up and get everybody out."
At swing gates, doors have to lock in one direction and open in another depending upon how that gate is being used at the time. Many doors have keypads or card readers and must recognize persons authorized to enter but keep everyone else out. "The door just wants to know what it's supposed to do," he says.
In addition, "They have to talk to each other, the doors, so they know when to lock and unlock. They also have to report to the airport operations center." Each of these smart doors has multiple control cables and its own computer, which in turn is managed by a master control system with priorities and protocols.
The airport tested more than 20 prototype doors, McCoomb notes. "That's why buildings cost what they cost."
Pearson is the first Canadian airport to provide smart touchscreen information kiosks for customers. Real-time messages from the airport and airlines, as well as directories of hotels, restaurants, car rental agencies and other services, are available free on the 30 kiosks placed in the arrivals and departure areas of Terminal 1. Users can make reservations by phone directly from the kiosk or see a map from that location to an in-terminal facility. The kiosks are made by King Products and Solutions Inc. of Mississauga, Ontario, and managed by airport specialists from a central control station. Telephone service is through the airportwide VoIP network, the largest in Canada.