External view JetBlue Terminal 5 ; External view JetBlue Terminal 5 ;

JetBlue Terminal 5, New York, NY

Meeting the demands of modern air travel

The design of Terminal 5 at John F Kennedy Airport is informed by JetBlue’s emphasis on efficient, convenient service at reasonable price.

One of the first terminals of the post 9/11 period, the building meets the unique demands of air travel today, minimising bottlenecks at check-in, security and baggage claim.

In eight years of operation JetBlue has become the largest airline at JFK, accounting for 30% of all passenger traffic.

Masterplanning and design management

Arup, as masterplanner and design manager, consulted JetBlue early on to define the project’s scope and to map out how the terminal would accommodate and expand with the airline’s rapid growth.

Inside, the terminal features a 20-gate security checkpoint, the largest contiguous checkpoint of any terminal in the USA.

An automated baggage system moves up to 4,000 bags from check-in every hour, through screening and sorting and on to planes.

Outside, the terminal’s 26 gates are served by dual taxiways that permit arriving and departing planes to taxi to and from gates simultaneously. All contribute to meeting an industry-leading turnaround time of 30 minutes for arriving aircraft to depart once again.

In 2014, Arup designed the international expansion to the terminal JetBlue Terminal 5i. 

Arup’s broad scope of work for Terminal 5 demonstrates the variety and depth of skills that the firm can apply to a single project. Beyond masterplanning and site work, Arup also provided engineering, mechanical, electrical and other interior systems, as well as communications and IT systems, building acoustics, security, code compliance and commissioning.

Code compliance and commissioning are integral to a facility opening on time and without incident and functioning as designed. It involves testing various building systems and double-checking that construction and components conform to code. Some of the commissioning work particular to new terminals includes extensive testing of baggage handling equipment; check-in, security, communications and PA systems and passenger gangways.

Increasingly, the commissioning work involves a full-scale dress rehearsal. Arup led such an event at Terminal 5 in August, when about 1,000 of JetBlue’s frequent flier customers were invited to participate in a day-long programme to put the terminal through its paces.

Divided into four groups, the “passengers” went through the departure process of checking in, navigating through security and continuing to their gates. Once there, they reversed course, proceeding to baggage claim as arriving passengers to collect their belongings – JetBlue totes distributed for the trial.