Hellas Highlights

Tom Allett examines how Fraport, the operator of 14 Greek airports, has accomplished a group-wide project to replace all of the LED floodlighting

In 2015, the Greek government began implementing a significant privatisation programme that included the sale of 14 regional airports. The aim was to improve the quality of their infrastructure and service levels which, in turn, would promote the development of the tourism industry, which is a key driver of the Greek economy.

The privatisation transferred responsibility for the modernisation, maintenance, management and operations of these facilities to the private sector, under long-term concession agreements. Fraport Greece, owned by Fraport and the Copelouzos Group, was appointed as the concessionaire on December 14, 2015.

In this article we are focusing on the lighting aspects of the upgrade. At the time of the privatisation, all airports were adhering to recommendations by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). But, in Europe, the lighting rules were changing. In February 2014, the EU’s European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued new binding regulations – not just recommendations – with which member states had to comply.

The level of information wasn’t always up to date, complete or even at all available
Yuli Grig Midstream Lighting

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Midstream Lighting provided floodlighting for all 14 airports that had come under the wing of Fraport Greece in 2015. Pictured is Chania Airport, Crete (Midstream Lighting)
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An important part of the lighting consideration was the need to avoid excess glare impairing the view of pilots and ground staff. This is a pilot’s view at Corfu Airport (pilotpoz)

The solution provided has been a real upgrade for each of the airports Fraport Greece has completed so far and we are excited see the final upgrades done later this year.
Bill Fullerton Chief Technical Officer, Fraport Greece

As checking and upgrading the lighting at all EU airports was a long-term task, each airport operator had to go through the process of assessing its existing equipment before acting on the results. For Fraport Greece, this meant its 14 airports had to go through the re-certification process by the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCCA) again – and pass it. The subsequent checks revealed various problems. Some airport layouts had been reconfigured since their original design or were slated for reorganisation. Either way, they could not comply with the new rules. Some masts had to be repositioned or removed because the airports needed to construct new buildings and the lighting set-up had to account for this. Many of the airports are located on Greek islands and some of their floodlights had suffered significant corrosion due to the salty, humid and windy conditions in those locations. At a few locations, some masts were too short to provide the required illumination spread, while others had simply reached the end of their natural lifespan or their performance had degraded over time. All had to be replaced.

The result was that new floodlighting systems had to be designed for all 14 airports. Each would need to meet the new EASA standards, improve energy efficiency and sustainability, and manage the airports’ throughput. After a four-month global tender, Fraport appointed UK-based Midstream Lighting to deliver the new lighting. The two organisations had worked together before as Midstream had already completed airport projects for the Copelouzos Group at Athens and its Frankfurt Main home.

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The design and planning aspect of the floodlighting was completed in under a month, with all the components arriving two months later (Midstream Lighting)
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Future proofing is an important aspect of any design. What will each airport need in five to ten years? Can the lighting masts cope with the Greek climate? (Midstream Lighting)

Nevertheless, there was an unusual element to the project. Not only was every airport unique, because the airports had recently changed ownership, their individual engineering histories were not available. Yuli Grig, Midstream Lighting’s co-founder and commercial director, told Airports International: “The level of information we were receiving from the client wasn’t always up to date, complete or at all available. So, the project needed a ‘do, learn and change as we go’ approach. This, in turn, meant each revision needed to comply with all the stakeholder requirements and construction and engineering changes, which resulted in lots of work for our designer engineers. As we were co-operating with other planning and design agencies, each airport needed to be looked at in great detail, with careful consideration of what each area needed and the impact on other airport systems.”

To conduct the background work to calculate the optimal position and number of lighting masts required, Midstream Lighting used Dialux lighting design software. Mr Grig explained: “It evaluates several considerations, such as future-proofing: what will each airport need in five to ten years? As for glare, how do you to protect pilots and ground staff from the effects of that? Then there’s the local environment. The new equipment needed to cope with the hot, windy, salty, humid, arid and sandy conditions, so specialist materials were needed. With all that taken onto account, Midstream proposed the use of the ‘high-heat’ version of its Titan series floodlight in 316-grade stainless steel.

“When determining the optimal light positioning, we co-ordinated our work with the contractors, detailed design engineers, architects, airfield operations and the HCAA to come up with the very best floodlight positioning. Our design engineers worked on many revisions to meet the needs and to get approval from all stakeholders, as the project’s scope changed throughout the design stage.”

He noted that the project was undertaken during normal live operations at the airports and that the lighting was often only one element among wider construction work: “When all the requirements for each airport were finally agreed, we delivered everything that was needed in one batch to a central warehouse in Athens. This allowed the main contractor to call for each lighting package per airport as and when it was time.”

The new equipment had to cope with heat, salt, humidity, sand
Yuli Grig Midstream Lighting

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Timeline

Fraport’s project tender was issued in March 2018 and Midstream Lighting was appointed in early July 2018, with preliminary designs completed and agreed by the end of the same month. All the equipment was delivered by the end of September 2018. Midstream supplied a commissioning engineer to oversee its elements of the project, but the company wasn’t responsible for any of the other airport reconstruction work at each site. Midstream’s on-site commissioning engineer also provided training during the installation, checked the lights levels after the new masts were installed and completed the handover documentation. The floodlighting installation work is now complete at most of the 14 airports.

Looking back at the work undertaken, Sotiris Angos, mechanical engineer with the Greek construction company INTRAKAT, commented: “The Midstream Lighting service was as good as it gets. The speed and quality of their work from day one was exactly what we needed, from completing the lighting designs for every airport in such a short space of time, right through to delivery and, of course, the quality of the lighting. This project was a huge success and they played an extremely important part of it.”

Bill Fullerton, chief technical officer for Fraport Greece, added: “From a technical perspective, we are very happy with the support, service and solution provided by Midstream Lighting. The solution provided has been a real upgrade for each of the airports [that] Fraport Greece has completed so far and we are excited see the final upgrades done later this year.”