This is an idea put forward at the Duxford CReative Workshop in June 2008. It was described then as " Movable landing strip in water" and the amplifying text was as follows. "To rduce the pressures on HUB airports, landing strips in the sea could be created. These could be movable and turned into the wind to create maximum capacity. These structures could be multi funcional and provide (wind, solar, hydrogen etc.) energy as well."
Further reflection on this idea gives it even greater scope. The concept is envisaged as a series of islets carrying only the runway and the taxiways and aprons needed to relate to the aircraft. Each islet is capable of being slowly turned under the power of its thrusters to be substantially along the wind axis making for easier take off and landing and capable of full operation even in what might otherwise represent severe cross winds. The passengers arrive at the aircraft from an adjacent fixed terminal base connected to the islet runway by a swinging bridge structure with internal powered walkways. This swinging walkway provides an essentially fixed link in the perception of the passenger between the departure lounges on the fixed terminal and the aircraft loading point.
On the fixed terminal unit there is provision for transit passenger handling, baggage handling etc and a number of departure lounges and utility shopping areas. One of the main features of the terminal unit is its transit station which is the only route to and from the terminal. This is envisaged as being a submerged tunnel-mounted fast commuter rail link between the main terminal and the loading terminals and passengers would be able to go either to the main terminal or to any of the other islet terminals using this fast system.
The main terminal is also a fixed unit having a central station from which connections radiate to the islet terminals and, of course, the main high speed rail link to the mainland which may be to a fixed mainland location or part of a network of routes that pass through the airport.
The Off-shore Airport has many benefits: these include
- list item It makes better use of land and by its nature prevents encroachment problems
- It provides open areas for the installation of solar and hydrogen power generation and storage.
- It provides a possible location for a major rail terminal.
- It allows for multiple runways to be operated simultaneously
- It allows for ready extension of the airport if needed.
- It provides a good connection for the cruise ship industry in those parts of the world where this is a consideration.
- It could also provide airport facilities for seaplane services if these should be required.
- The airport is environmentally sensitive.