Michael Baker Partners with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Solve Complex Electrical Challenge

December 30, 2016

Firm provided 3-D mapping services to assess and manage solutions for increasing number of electrical wires at world’s busiest airport

Known as the most traveled airport in the world for the past 18 years, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) also is one of the most illuminated. To meet the demands of the increase in travelers over the years – ATL is the first airport in the world to process 100 million passengers in a year – significant expansion has been required, including upgrades and growth to its Airfield Lighting System. These developments ultimately have added a significant number of electrical wires below ground – wherein the new live wires are occupying the same space in electrical manholes as live, dead or abandoned wires. As a result, the airport identified the need to assess and develop a solution to map the electrical wiring.
Field work in the North Airfield

Michael Baker International, along with its partners in the AIS JV, partnered with the airport on a three-year, multimillion dollar project to accurately document the complex Airfield Lighting System, which includes more than 20,000 lights, more than 700 guidance signs, more than 600 manholes, three high-voltage electrical distribution vaults and an Airfield Lighting Control and Monitoring System (ALCMS). The team used 3-D modeling to map the lighting components, which will help the airport maintain the existing system and develop designs for future construction activities for continuous airfield improvements.

Field work in the North Airfield
The scope of the project includes:
  • -A comprehensive program to track and survey guidance signs, circuits, light fixtures, manholes, hand holes, pull cans, light bases and vault equipment
  • -Survey data and 3-D base map to illustrate airfield lighting layout
  • -Identifying potential future repair projects in the field
“Michael Baker has been a partner to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for more than 14 years, during which time we have successfully provided pavement management services for the facility, using the latest technology to capture data on the pavement conditions,” said Quintin Watkins, aviation program manager in Michael Baker’s Norcross, Ga., office. “This current project for the airport’s Airfield Lighting System uses a similar approach to detect issues in electrical equipment and provide the airport maintenance crew with a roadmap of the type and location of wires underground in the airfield. The goal is to help them better identify and solve electrical outages and problems.”
Before and after

The airport first saw a major need for this type of wiring identification and mapping of its lighting system after an incident several years ago. In the midst of an electrical outage across the airport, engineers and maintenance personnel had trouble quickly identifying where the problem originated and which wires may be the issue. Having a 3-D map that identifies the entire electrical system, including the status and routes of individual wires, would greatly reduce the time to remedy maintenance issues.

The project not only provided the airport with a comprehensive plan for its electrical lighting system, it also provided other benefits for the facility, including:
  • -Safety: The maintenance team now is able to easily identify wires that could be potentially dangerous to work with (i.e., aged/damaged, live, dead, etc.).
  • -Time/Cost Savings: With the more detailed electrical map, maintenance workers can now save time and labor costs by locating the source of outages quicker, which in turn, means repairs can be made faster.
  • -Reducing Flight Delays: Since repairs to the electrical system can be made faster, flight delays could be reduced.
Michael Baker divided the project into four phases for various locations of the airfield covering the electrical vaults (Phase I), the North Complex (Phase II), the Center Complex (Phase III) and the South Complex (Phase IV). Each phase consisted of field work, development of as-built plans and a demonstration of electronic survey data and images.
The first two phases of the project have been completed, with Phase III work being finalized in mid-2017, and the final phase in early 2018.