Drive Through Airport prototype by Büro für MEHR


June 28, 2012

Design studio Büro für MEHR has created a drive through concept for an airport passenger terminal that could change the way airports process traffic

Design studio Büro für MEHR has created a drive through concept for an airport passenger terminal that could change the way airports process traffic

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Amsterdam and Vienna-based design studio Büro für MEHR has created a drive through concept for an airport passenger terminal that could change the way airports process traffic. The concept offers a significant reduction of the size of an airport’s layout to simplify ground traffic and significantly reduce its environmental impact. It is anticipated that within next decade aviation traffic could almost double, with many airports already struggling to facilitate increased demand. The Drive Through Airport concept has been designed with future logistics in mind, while simply presenting an idea that raises the question, why hasn’t anyone done this before?

"The basic idea is to move the aircraft to the passengers, rather than moving the people to their planes," Miklos Deri, Co-Founder of Büro für MEHR told Gizmag. "Instead of investigating airports in a traditional manner purely from a spatial point of view, the design focuses around the passenger and aircraft handling processes."

The new concept sends aircrafts through a mandatory pathway, much a like a carwash but separated into three divisions: arrival, servicing and departure. To facilitate the new concept of aircraft flow, the airplanes move through an elevated undercover terminal, where passengers can board the planes from the level directly above. "Traditional airport planning is less than three-dimensional," said Deri. "However, adding time as a new component is the key to reorganize and reinvent the entire system. Instead of static gates, why not moving the aircraft on a linear track and add all the necessary features around it?"

Furthermore, the layout allows passengers to board directly from the main commercial area of the terminal, saving on transfer time, luggage collection and ultimately making it easier to board connecting flights. Large glass windows and sloped boarding lounges will allow passengers to appreciate the vast view of the passing planes and all the movement and machinery of a functional airport.

While the design is a clear step towards making airport terminals more user-friendly, the plan also reduces its environmental footprint by saving on aircraft fuel and terminal construction. "Drive Through Airport is as green as an airport can be," said Deri. "[It] is sustainable because it is highly efficient. The terminal’s footprint is reduced and airside taxi ways are optimized."

Büro für MEHR’s eight-lane Drive Through Airport prototype has the capability to process a maximum of 48 airplanes every 15 minutes. According to Büro für MEHR the remarkable achievement is equivalent to a 144 gate airport with an average 45-minute turnaround. "To avoid delays in a row, drive through airport requires skilled and motivated handlers to ensure a smooth operation and keep the time frame," Deri added.

While it is difficult to predict how much the Drive Through Terminal will cost to construct, Deri is confident that it can easily underbid London Heathrow's T5A or the recently finished terminal in Madrid Barajas T4 or T4S. Deri is also hoping that the concept will inspire dramatic changes in airport planning. "Well, of course we hope that we can start a revolution!" said Deri. "The first prototype focuses on a dense network of short-haul flights, for narrow-body aircraft. It works best for busy airports, since the amount of tracks are laid out for peak capacity. It could be added as a module to an existing airport, or built as a greenfield airport."

Büro für MEHR is currently hoping that like-minded collaborators will help construct the first Drive Through Airport, but no doubt this is not the last we’ll be seeing from the creative firm. "MEHR means MORE in German," concluded Deri. "I am confident that you can expect MORE from us in the future!"

Sources: Büro für MEHR via Dezeen

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

Wow. Talk about instantly seeing the future... Not just the layout-but seeing airliners for what they are: Overgrown buses. Additionally...I would speculate that the near-term doubling of air traffic will come from the increasing number of "air taxi / limo" services that will pop up to service those that can afford not to be herded on to these beasts.Couple that with the realization of a functional / stylish "flying car" for those who can afford the convenience...and you have what I call: "The Aviation Software Coders Full Employment Act". :-)


This doesnt look like it would easily scale to changes in aircraft geometry.

People thought the A380 was extremely difficult to accommodate at conventional gate layouts. Imagine what would have happened if this sort of airport were widely employed before the A380 was conceived. Imagine what the impact would be for airports if the Boeing Blended Wing Body aircraft program eventually bears fruit.

Bob Ehresman

The reason why nobody has does this in the past is when the first plane breaks down you have to tow it out delaying all the rest of the planes. Looks good on paper but really is a bad concept.


One delay to one aircraft and what happens then?


Breakdowns will probably be handled the same way they are handled today when a plane breaks down at a gate or on a runway. They tow it. There have been strongman stunts where one guy has gotten a jumbo jet moving single handed without power so I suspect that it's not an unsolvable problem. Maybe they will even have the foresight to have more than the minimum number of lanes needed.

Snake Oil Baron

As for the A380, not all airports are going to have the runways for them anyway. Big, transoceanic flights will likely service the biggest airports which will have some or all regular terminals while most travel can go through the lines. Lots of airports have more than one section as some are built at different periods of time.

Snake Oil Baron

Looking at the pictures it looks like the lines are only 3 planes long. Each plane in the line first unloads the passengers, then is serviced, and then loads the new passengers. Any delays would only have an effect on at most 2 other planes. As any other plane would be able to be redirected for entering another line. Looks good to me.


"Why hasn't someone done this before?"

Because it will work just as well as drive through lines work at your favorite fast food store. You know, like the guy who tries to figure out what he wants to eat after he stops in front of the speaker, then doesn't have enough money to pay for it. Or the kid spills his drink and wants another one.

So the plane in the rear is fully loaded, fueled and has a flight plan ready to go and the plane in front has an unruly passenger that has to be offloaded by sky marshals. Is it really that hard to see what could go wrong with this scheme?


Re DemonDuck;

Time to try the Thunderbirds concept of detachable passenger cabins, someone being a problem means removing the cabin, the flight behind can then have its passengers moved up the queue with a cabin swap.


Then there is also the confusion of having all the passengers at the same gate.


Where does the flight servicing take place: baggage loading, refuelling, minor maintenance, cleaning, catering supply, etc.?

It seems there would still have to be 'stands' for these services - whereupon the supposed space saving vanishes.


Sounds great till the first time a wing clips something and the fuel catches fire and the whole thing goes up in a bonfire.


Wow did any of you read the article and look at the accompanying pictures? They do not drive the planes through they use tugs just like regular airports. The design is only for narrow body airplanes, wide body planes go to another section. Delay on one plane, the same thing happens now; if a plane is delayed they haul it out of the way because that ramp is scheduled to be used in the next hour by some other flight. Same answer for all the passengers at the same gate, have you been to Las Vegas or Los Angeles up to eight gate service out of one lounge. This design has all loading in one place and all loading in another no cross traffic. The planes do not sit and get completely processed in one place, passengers and freight get discharged at the beginning, it is pulled into the servicing area, and then they are pulled to loading,

Robin Mccabe

From the layouts shown it appears all of the aircraft in a row must enter and depart at the same time. I don't see the space available for the aircraft to pass in a load/unload row. Did I miss something obvious?


re; L1ma

The definition of fully fueled in commercial aviation is enough fuel to reach your destination plus reserves. So if a A320 that is fully fueled to fly from Rome to Paris but events dictate that she be used for the scheduled flight of Rome to London instead, fuel must be added to the plane before it is fully fueled for the flight she is going to actually fly.

Besides the interchangeable cargo/passenger compartment has been tried by the US air Force and was found to be inferior to conventional aircraft. (heavy and complex making it fuel hungry and maintenance intensive)


Concept looks fine to me. Aircraft are never at the good time or good place. Let that sink in.

This idea makes that better. It is similar to a train station with a lot of parallel railtracks concentrated in one central place. You have much infrastructure in the same place that can handle much more efficiently.

It makes a lot of more sense than current designs do actually.

Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret

Yes morongobill ... they put all the fuel in the tips of the wings near hot lights and open flame sources.

I haven't flew since 2003 or something and i remember it being AWFUL. Show up an hour early or they won't let you on a flight that's already delayed an hour further. Then that delay gets you to wait around in some AWFUL shopping mall of a HUB airport (since you missed your connecting flight), napping at the bar in a mini-Chili's or something. If anything can be done to make flying more efficient on the people side (we'll figure out this security thing later) let's take it. Because the only thing worse than flying in a plane is sitting on a runway in one.

Also let's take notice from amusement parks. Put a sample seat in the line for ticket purchasers. IF YOU CAN'T KEEP ALL OF YOUR SKIN INSIDE THE SEAT YOU MUST BUY TWO, and ONLY IF THERE ARE EXTRA!

Why is it that the only part about flying that doesn't make me angry or anxious is going 100's of miles per hour a mile up in the sky? blah blah rage rage.


Why not have the aircraft reconfigured like military cargo planes that load from the rear, have all passengers seats, overhead and luggage placed on a giant pod that can instantly be installed fully loaded. All of this having been done in the terminal as the aircraft is arriving. Equipment could be designed to unload the current pod and load the next one having the aircraft turned around in mere minutes. Also the fuel could be designed for pods so that the empty fuel pods could be removed and fully loaded ones could be installed instantly. This along with redesigned terminals could bring much needed improvements to an industry stuck in the past.

Roy Jarvis

Main benefit is probably that you put the terminal over the planes, and by stacking the planes three and three you get an more angular airport reducing size, And the servicing of the plane take place at the center station, they can probably do lot of it at the other two to for more flexibility.

Magne Moe

While there are some badly designed airports out there the current gate system works well assuming that the airline's gates are clustered together. If a boarding ramp breaks, or a plane breaks down so it can't be immediately moved an alternate gate can be used until the situation is rectified. If you want to fix airports improve the way people move around inside the airport.

re; Roy Jarvis On most airliners (All new designs) the aircraft's skin makes up part of the fuel tanks so your fuel pods are going to be heavier and carry less fuel. Your passenger/cargo pods will add an extra heavy structure to the plane making it use more fuel and carry less thus making the tickets more expensive and the additional complication will increase the number of breakdowns that cause delays.


Rather than having 'lanes', why not just create 3 'zones as suggested (arrival, servicing and departure) as 3 long strips - but space them far enough apart to allow planes to move to any vacant bay in the next zone to prevent 'blockages' in a single lane? You could combine them at one end to faciliate moving people/items from zone to zone - so basically like a 3 pronged fork with a very short handle.

One major cost saving is moving to a system where a tug moves the planes around from the point of landing to the point of take-off (just read that a 747 uses 1,000kgs of fuel during a standard taxi!)


In a similar fashion, you can also change the concept of the airplane: ClipAir

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