Lifts, escalators and autowalks BAA Terminal 5

Year 2008
Location Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport, Middlesex
Solutions 3 autowalks & 103 escalators (T5A 66 escalators & 1 autowalk, T5B 29 escalators & 2 autowalks, T5Rail 8 escalators). 54 lifts (18 KONE lifts all T5B: 9 Scenics (MiniSpace), 2 CIP (MonoSpace), 3 goods lifts (Transys), 2 fire fighting lifts


The Terminal 5 project began in 2001 and opened in March 2008, costing £4.3bn and employing around 60,000 people.

BAA says that the new terminal sets an international benchmark in airport design with a Richard Rogers structure that provides travelllers with a succession of light and airy spaces that ‘reflect the drama of air travel.’

The main terminal building, T5A, is multi-stacked over eight levels under a single span roof 400m in length. That's a long walk for passengers with luggage and, when you add the terminal's satellite buildings and railway station to the mix, it's clear that the project was always going to be a big user of lifts, escalators and moving walkways (autowalks).

The KONE solution

The logistics involved in transporting up to 30m passengers a year within the confines of a busy airport terminal demands a skilful use of space and the end result here is a clever mixture of lifts, escalators and autowalks that will allow passengers to move around the complex in an intuitive manner. Passengers departing via the satellites will take lifts or escalators from the departure lounges to the track transit system platforms at basement level and there are glazed express lifts at the northern end of the plaza to connect rail services with the arrivals and departures concourses.

KONE have provided 103 escalators, 54 lifts and 3 autowalks in T5A and T5B. This proved a major challenge but one that KONE have met head on by installing all KONE products on time and fully operational for the opening of T5. 

KONE's project manager for T5, Mel Lewis, says "We have supplied all the escalators to the project to T5A, which is the main terminal building to TSB, which is the satellite building and the railway station. We've also supplied the lifts to T5B and what we call the FlaN - fixed links and nodes (the passenger walkways that lead up to the planes).  There was a lot of discussion very early on - the original plans were done three years ago and since then we've continually met with the teams and various people agreeing what is required." Mel travelled down from his home in Yorkshire to work at T5 for three to four days every week. He lives in Keighley, which is also home to the KONE factory where all the escalators for T5 have been manufactured. The two largest of these weigh a massive 36 tonne each, with a vertical rise of 2 1.75m (thought to be the largest in Europe in an open environment), so getting them installed was by necessity a 'cut and paste' job.

"The biggest hurdle we had was installing them on site," says Mel. "Those two particular machines went in in eight sections each. They were put together and run in the factory, then dismantled and taken to site to make sure that the distance between mountings and height rise was exactly what it was expected to be and then the eight sections for each escalator were delivered to site and bolted together. The two halves of each escalator were assembled at the top and bottom seating levels, and then lowered and lifted, respectively, into position using bespoke temporary works by our installation contractor, Beck & Pollitzer Engineering, before being spliced together at mid-span.”

Successful installation was one thing, but once the escalators were on site KONE faced another challenge – keeping the machines in pristine condition whilst major construction work continued alongside them.  In this respect, building and installing the escalators was only half the job, as Mel explains. “Following initial testing and commissioning, the escalators were timber protected in such a way that we could actually run them inside the box. This allowed us to carry out regular caretaker maintenance until the opening of the building.” This caretaker maintenance was a critical part of the contract to supply the lifts and escalators – what T5’s Capital Director Andrew Wolstenholme refers to as ‘mothballing’.

Tony oversaw the 16 major projects and 150 subprojects that make up Terminal 5 and he believes that the work of KONE is a good example of T5's philosophy in action.  "We've been very impressed at how well the lift industry has worked within the design demands and parameters," he says, "taking the brief for what we need and then coming back quickly with the technical specification. Our approach to this project has all been about successful partnership, and about bringing contractors on board at the earliest possible stages - something that has clearly paid dividends in the successful installation of the lifts and escalators throughout the site."