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<nettime> The Case for An Environmental Friendly Airport....
Paul D. Miller on Sun, 16 Sep 2001 01:25:52 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> The Case for An Environmental Friendly Airport....

Sitting here in Sweden and seeing the huge amount of airplanes grounded
and just plain old almost weeping at the basic sense of bad design that
pervades the whole airport scene worldwide - not to mention the vast
amounts of additonal pollution that bad design causes... I thought about
it: how about the old hydrogen/helium scene of the Graf Zeppellin instead
of the sleek bombs that most airplanes are today? I think lots of folks
would be into going cross Atlantic in style, slowly sweeping over the
ocean in a dirigible, one of those old school ships of the air... it'd be
alot more pleasant... but during the interim, why not airports based on
some kind of environmentally balanced concept like what's below.... it'd
be one less reason to go to war for oil or for screwball terrorist
ideas... just a thought,



Autumn 2001
Vol. 16, No. 3

A 'Green Airport'? Meet the StarPort
This airport is inclined to reduce pollution

by Jim Starry
Economic Development Through Environmental Design

Thousands of new airports are set to be built worldwide within the next
decade. An innovative design called the StarPort could produce fuel
savings of 300 million gallons a year at each airport, would require only
one-third of the land as a conventional facility and yield four times the
revenue. Worldwatch Editor Ed Ayers calls the StarPort design a
"breakthrough=8A a much more intelligent way of using techniques we humans
have had all along."

     Airports designed to handle 350 flights per day 30 years ago are=20
now scrambling to handle 700.

     A modern airport consumes nearly 500 million gallons of fuel a year -
nearly half as much fuel as burned by a large city's automobiles. But
because aircraft are not required to install catalytic converters,
airports are responsible for more than half of the local urban air

     We have gridlock at most major airports, with more than 23 planes
lined up on runways waiting their turn to take off while washing enormous
amounts of partially burned fuel into the atmosphere.

     The fumes from idling diesel jet engines are about 14 times more
polluting than gasoline exhaust. At many airports, levels of carbon
monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides are at least 10 times higher
than in surrounding cities. This isn't progress, it's suffocation.

     A Boeing 747 jet consumes more than 500 gallons of fuel during
taxiing - enough fuel to operate a car for a year. One thousand
taxi-to-takeoffs consume 12 million gallons - sufficient to power 200,000
cars for a day. Only four percent of the fuel burned goes into actually
moving the aircraft: The rest is thrown to the wind as exhaust and noise.

     The sprawling 52-square-mile Denver International Airport was built
to handle 2,000 flights daily - a landing or takeoff every 20 seconds.
Denver International offers 100 gates and five 12,000-foot (2.3 mile-long)
runways. The StarPort could save $200 million in fuel costs for an airport
with the air traffic of Denver International while cutting taxiing
distances by 48 percent.

Gravity not Kerosene

The solution? The StarPort incorporates inclined runways that use gravity
to help planes slow down on landing and accelerate on takeoff. Inclined
runways would be shorter, requiring a smaller footprint.

     Planes taking off down an inclined runway would reach takeoff speed
sooner, saving 1,000 gallons of jet fuel per flight. The runways would be
slightly concave to help planes stay centered. They would be wider at
touchdown, narrowing as they approach parking gates atop the terminal

     FAA officials have said that it is against regulations to permit
inclined runways but a number of existing US airports already feature
sloped runways - Colorado's Telluride Airport is built on a 4 percent

     In fact, FAA regulations do permit inclines up to 1.5 percent. It
would be possible to design a runway that starts at a 1 percent incline
and slowly rises to a 4 percent grade.

Put on the Brakes

Regenerative braking systems installed on electric cars not only slow down
speeding cars, they simultaneously transform the braking force into
electrical energy that is stored in batteries for later use. If
lightweight vertical armature electric motors were installed in aircraft
wheels, the tires could be pre-rotated before touchdown (eliminating
damaging structural shock and tread burn). From the moment the plane
touches down, the tires could begin generating electric power. Combined
with an inclined runway, they would eliminate the need for noisy 30-second
thrust-reversal engine burns that can easily burn 300 to 500 gallons of
fuel for each landing.

The Subsurface Terminal

An incline of 2 percent would eventually lift a 6,000-foot-long runway 120
feet above the surrounding landscape. The central terminal, where planes
park and wait to take on passengers, could tower as high as a 10-story

     Most airport customers now endure a 1.5-mile trek from their cars to
departure gates. At many airports, this means that each day 200 passengers
on 700 flights wind up walking 70,000 miles to build up their Frequent
Flyer accounts.

     StarPort passengers would board from below, moving almost directly to
their aircraft from a subsurface terminal in less than six minutes. For an
airport the size of Denver, this design would reduce the average
travelers' curb-to-counter commute by 80 percent. In addition to terminal
space, the sub-terminal space would include several floors of parking,
restaurants, shopping, hotels, convention and meeting space.

     Instead of circling a traditional airport and waiting in long
lines to enter a single entrance, the StarPort would have trafficentering and leaving the airport from four directions.

     Runways would be laid out side by side with a 600-foot separation,
allowing simulatneous takeoffs and landings. Taxiing distances would be
reduced 80 percent, with additional fuel savings. Lights beaming upward
from the terminal could serve as runway lights. In winter, the terminal's
heat would serve to melt the ice and snow offthe runways.

     Major US cities are scrambling to find airport sites that meet a
simple, but impossible, description: "50 square miles of unpopulated land
- close to downtown." A StarPort could be built on only 15 to 25 square
miles. Instead of turning valuable open space into new mega-airports,
StarPorts could be built at hundreds of smaller existing airfields that
were abandoned with the move toward larger aircraft and longer runways.

     If the 2,000 new airports were StarPorts, the fuel savings would
amount to two billion gallons a day - more than 1,000 times the oil the
Bush administration hopes to extract from the Arctic National Wildlife

Jim Starry is the director of Economic Development Through Environmental
Design, Inc [PO Box 1931, Boulder, CO 80306]. He has worked as an engineer
at Martin Marietta and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Articles on the StarPort design have appeared in Popular Mechanics,
Popular Science, The Wall Street Journal and will be cited in a
forthcoming Worldwatch Report.


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Paul D. Miller a.k.a. Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid

Subliminal Kid Inc.

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