Seen from the outside, Munich Airport's new satellite terminal looks close to completion. Inside, however, crews are working full speed ahead to complete the interior. Before the building goes into full operation in April of the coming year, a series of tests and extensive trial operations are scheduled.
With 4,000 staff members representing the full range of airport functions, the new facility will offer passengers smooth, reliable and punctual service. Along with employees from Lufthansa and Munich Airport itself, these will include a large workforce from Lufthansa's Star Alliance partners, public authorities such as the German Border Patrol and other companies operating in the new facility.
For the future "satellite crew", the building will be new territory. To ensure that they can find their way around and understand all of the processes on their first day at work, they will undergo intensive training in the coming months.
All aspects of operations in the satellite must be tested down to the last detail before the official opening. The trial operations will begin in November with basic testing, which involves testing the functionality of the various sections of the new terminal. Next, the integrated test operations will start in January 2016. This involves testing the interaction between all of the processes involved in the handling of arriving and departing passengers. It will rely on the help of hundreds of "extras" acting as passengers for maximum realism. This highly realistic simulation of real-world operations will help those in charge to assess such aspects as how easily passengers find their way around the new building, whether boarding and transfer process can be completed in the envisaged time frame, and the effectiveness of the signage.
The lessons learned from the test operations will be used during the final preparations to eliminate any glitches or other issues in the lead-up to the official launch in April 2016. To round off the test operations, all handling processes in the satellite building will undergo four days of live testing under realistic conditions in March 2016.
The personal transport system (PTS) linking the satellite to Terminal 2 via a 400-meter tunnel will also be tested extensively before final certification to carry passengers. Bombardier, the Canadian manufacturer of the system, has already delivered eight of the 12 cars that will make up the three trains.
All of the mobile passenger bridges have been in position since the end of July. Now the technical acceptance process is underway. This will include tests and training for the 400 bridge operators. Before the satellite starts handling passengers, which will make it part of the airport's secure zone, the entire building will be searched. Perishable goods for restaurants and the Lufthansa lounges will not be delivered until just before the official opening.
Like Terminal 2, the satellite will be operated through a joint venture of Munich Airport and Lufthansa, which will hold 60% and 40% ownership, respectively. With the new passenger terminal, the airport's annual capacity will be increased by 11 million passengers. At the same time, the expansion will more than double the number of Terminal 2 pierside aircraft positions from 24 to 51. This means that, once the facility is open, passengers will be able to board aircraft directly, with no bus transfer required – a real improvement in passenger comfort and the quality of service at Munich Airport.