Aspects of Development of Sydney Airport

Mike Thom, Director, Douglas Partners Pty Ltd

The first significant development at Sydney Airport took place immediately after the Second World War when Cooks River was diverted to enable construction of the North-South and East-West Runways. This work was concluded in the late 1950’s by which time the present airport layout was essentially established.

Since the early construction work at the Airport, development has occurred episodically with the second phase comprising a major runway extension into Botany Bay and construction of various infrastructure beneath the runway extension. This was followed by development in the present International Terminal area including major site preparation works to convert swamp land into an area suitable for building and pavement construction.

The talk will outline some history of the development of the Airport, together with some of the geotechnical problems which were encountered by the early engineers. The main part of the talk will focus on settlement at Sydney Airport especially around the International Terminal where up to 200 mm of post construction settlement has been recorded since 1971. The talk will also look at a significant stability problem alongside the northern ponding area where parking areas for jumbo aircraft have been located. The talk will also provide some data on piling for Terminal C at the International Terminal where significant uplift loads were required to prevent flotation of the Terminal Building.

The three areas of geotechnical difficulty that will be discussed during the talk are just a few of the problems that have been encountered during the 50 years development at the Airport. The talk will be illustrated by many historical photographs which have been collected by the author.

Engineers Australia members participating in AGS technical sessions can record attendance on their personal CPD logs. Members should refer to Engineers Australia CPD policy for details on CPD types, requirements and auditing guidelines.