Innovation Demands Collaboration

NACO’s Paul Wessels explores the intricacies of airport planning on a global scale 

Paul Wessels, Airport Planner at NACO, a company of Royal HaskoningDHV, explains our involvement in one aspect of aviation – that of airport planning:

“NACO is well known in the aviation industry; having delivered solutions to over 550 airports in over 100 countries, we’re recognised as a leader in airport development. However, we’re currently investigating broadening our offer so that in addition to planning, design and engineering services, we can deliver more operational solutions. These could include special systems such as baggage handling and ground services for aircraft.

“We’re involved in a range of global initiatives designed to drive forward innovation in the aviation sector, one of which is the Global Reporting Initiative, a continuous process established to improve sustainability reporting in company Annual Reports.

“NACO is also an active participant in theGROUNDS, a collaborative initiative between airports, KLM, contractors and consultancies, focused on improving sustainability through innovations including biojet fuel, solar panels and iPort – a revolutionary new ground-handling concept.

Collaboration and Innovation
“Collaboration is also key when it comes to our relationships with clients and partners. We have to understand exactly what their needs and priorities are – and also their limitations. Only then can we come up with the most innovative and effective plans possible.

“Adopting a face-to-face multi-disciplinary approach means problem-solving can happen quickly and effectively, driving innovative ideas. It’s a dynamic process, which has served us well over our many years of work in this area.    

Tailor-made Solutions
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution which can be applied to every airport globally. We work with countries all over the world and as such, we modify our approaches according to the vastly different challenges facing the variety of countries in which we operate.

“In Africa for instance, an airstrip in a remote location can open up connections with cities, making trading opportunities possible and improving access to better healthcare. Priorities vary depending on local needs and in developing countries there is emphasis on improving economic opportunity and quality of life.

“Similarly, In Saudi Arabia water use is a major concern, so at Jeddah Airport for example we’ve delivered initiatives to recycle grey water for various uses including plant-watering. Despite a massive projected growth in passengers through Jeddah in the coming years, this work means that the capacity of the local desalination plant will not need to be increased.”

Wessels concludes “Sustainability is often thought of in terms of planet, people and profit. We must be pragmatic and respectful of each country’s unique set of concerns and recognise that in reality, people and profit sometimes take priority and are key factors driving airport development.”

For more information on the NACO approach to regional airport planning, please contact [email protected]