Implementing Capital Works Programs at John Wayne Airport

Carin Rautenbach
The new Terminal C at John Wayne Airport opened on November 14, as the centerpiece of a $543 million, five-year capital expansion and improvement program.

John Wayne Airport is owned and operated by the County of Orange, California. It is the only commercial airport and one of two general aviation airports in the county and is located 35 miles south of Los Angeles. The airport spans 500 acres, has two runways, and handles nearly ten million passengers and more than 15,000 tons of cargo each year. The existing Thomas F. Riley Terminal, opened in 1990 and designed to accommodate 8.4 million annual passengers, has struggled to keep up.

The airport has implemented a five-year improvement program – one of Orange County’s largest-ever public works programs. The improvements include construction of a new multi-level terminal building with six new commercial passenger gates, a new TSA security checkpoint, greater baggage screening capability, over 2,000 parking spaces, new commuter facilities at the north and south ends of the extended terminal, and a central utility plant with co-generation capabilities.

This is a highly visible project, funded by passenger facility fees, and transparency throughout the planning and construction process was paramount.

This is a highly visible project, funded by passenger facility fees, and transparency throughout the planning and construction process was paramount. The airport needed robust and auditable business systems that could withstand inspection and investigation. In general, public agencies have found that information delay could cause potential challenges, so real time reporting was needed to minimize program slippage.

Hired separately from the client’s program manager, Faithful+Gould provided an independent perspective as project controls consultants. At the outset we evaluated the airport’s business systems and processes, to identify how best to implement this capital works program. It had been a long time since any major construction program was embarked upon. There was a strong desire to have transparency of approval chains (budgets, architectural submittals, contracts, change orders, invoices) and the ability to aggregate data across multiple projects, generated by disparate project teams, based on consistent and verifiable processes.

We explored a range of solutions before helping John Wayne Airport select the Skire Unifier™ software platform. Combined with the client’s standard procedures, this software enabled automated and agile business processes carrying information between project participants with no data duplication. This saved time and cost, eliminating error and ensuring multi-stakeholder compliance with agreed procedures. The client could take ownership of the data, identify any cost or schedule issues, make timely decisions and act swiftly to mitigate the risks.

The basis for these systems was an especially rigorous cost management approach. The change order process was robust, supported informed negotiation with contractors and ensured that Orange County got the best value for their money.

We are now replicating this process on other projects. As well as aviation, we have also seen success in the energy, food and beverage, government, biopharma, higher education and healthcare arenas. Feedback has been extremely positive. At John Wayne Airport we were responsible for training the team in the use of the software and we learned that the best outcomes occur when clients are most involved in molding the system to suit their corporate ethos. This encourages maximum collaboration with other members of the team, as all share the same data. Upfront attention and teamwork avoids later misunderstandings and potential conflict.

The aviation sector is one of Faithful+Gould’s key market areas. We have gained significant project experience at major airports across the globe and have played a key role in supporting John Wayne Airport since 2002. The five-year capital expansion program has been one of our most recent appointments and it followed the master plan that we helped update in 2005.

Our global experience covers airside/landside infrastructure, baggage handling, major terminals, terminal refurbishment, extensions and people movers, major infrastructure, runways and apron works, surface access, airport systems, aircraft maintenance facilities, fueling facilities and non-operational property. Other recent commissions include John F. Kennedy Airport, NY, Sacramento Airport, CA, Houston Airport, TX, Los Angeles International Airport, CA, San Diego Airport, CA, several projects for airlines and for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).