Airports need a lot of space, but just the places that are most in need of connection to the world – islands and megacities – are lacking space, writes CNN.
In the search for a solution architects and building professionals are starting to turn to the sea. Such technologies are used to expand capacity at the airports in Hong Kong and Osaka. Experts, however, are going much further in their vision for the future by considering airports of floating platforms.
The media reminds that during the Second World War Britain makes its plans to build runways on icebergs to provide coverage for vital Atlantic convoys. However, the project was never realized but since then dates the concept of a floating airport.
In 1995, 17 Japanese private companies – mainly shipbuilding and steel industry, form the association for technological research Mega-Float, which is supported by the Government of Japan. The aim is to design and test the concept of a floating airport, which if successful – will be built in Tokyo Bay.
Mega-Float is perhaps the most ambitious attempt of its kind so far. The project has a runway long 4 thousand meters. The model is actually smaller – with a one-kilometer track, proving that it is suitable for operation. However, the project was never realized in practice and the test structure is dismantled.
A proposal similar to the Mega-Float is currently being discussed in San Diego. The international airport of the city doesn’t have enough space to expand, so experts suggest construction of two new floating runs. The cost of the project, however – about $20 billion, may seem too high to local authorities.
The most realistic chances of such project for a floating airport to be realized in the future are in the warm seas. Currently similar projects are being evaluated by the governments of several Caribbean countries that are heavily dependent on air transport. Their lack of space is further complicated because of the hilly terrain of the islands.
Some aviation experts, however, remain skeptical about the applicability of the concept given its high cost, which limits profits dramatically. Such projects, including the construction of tracks on the sea surface, are currently being set in motion in the South China Sea, but they do not have economic considerations, says R. W. Mann, a consultant and former director of planning of several airlines.