“Continuous collaboration and communication, together with the best digital tools available, are key to delivering a successful fast-track construction project with such tight deadlines,” says Jonathan Horn, Zutari Major Projects Director.
Bugesera Airport Company Limited (BAC) has appointed Zutari as part of an international team to provide design review and construction supervision services for the New Bugesera International Airport (NBIA), approximately 28 km from Kigali.
The nearly US$1 billion Phases 1 and 2 of the project commenced in July 2017, with commissioning and certification to be completed by March 2020, in time for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali. The new airport will complement the Kigali International Airport, fulfilling the needs of Rwanda’s growing air passenger and cargo traffic.
Designed as a full-service international airport, Phase 1 will have capacity for 1.7 million passengers per year, increasing to 5.5 million passengers by Phase 5. The roof of the approximately 30 000 m² terminal building has been designed to represent the country’s hilly terrain, with the building’s façade showcasing local Rwandan colours. The runway and parallel taxiway length will be 3.8 km with the Airbus A330 used as the design aircraft.
Due to the very tight deadlines, the design review and detailed design will be done almost simultaneously and on site. As mobilisation took place in September 2017, the commencement of Phases 1 and 2 to commissioning and certification was only two and a half years, when a project of this magnitude would normally take a minimum of four years.
Zutari is using various digital technology tools on the project, such as drones, a geographic information systems (GIS) portal, Zutari’s Field Force mobile application and virtual reality (VR). A drone is used to capture aerial footage of earthworks, which cover more than 500 ha, once a month. The female drone operator uses a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone, flying in a grid pattern across the whole site taking more than 5,000 photos per day. These photos are downloaded into Pix4D, the chosen photogrammetry software, to process images into an accurate aerial photograph, detailed enough to identify the plant, equipment and even tools such as spades and wheelbarrows.
Continuous collaboration and communication, together with the best digital tools available, are key to delivering a successful fast-track construction project with such tight deadlines
Viewers can, for example, overlay drawings of the airport design onto aerial photos of the actual progress at a given date, and compare progress to design.
From this photogrammetric process, a 3D contour model is created, comprising information calculated by stereoscopic calculations based on photograph coordinates (where the camera was when the shot was taken), and patterns on the photographs that appear on multiple overlapping photographs. The outputs are checked and calibrated by using the surveyed coordinates of 44 ground control markers that were pre-placed around the site. These markers are used to anchor the calculated 3D model into accurate survey coordinates, making the output suitable for use in assessments of progressing work such as slopes and volumes. Digital models are then compared against the final design levels to provide indicative quantities – usually within the same order of magnitude – of earthworks still to be undertaken. The models are also compared with previously created models to assess the earthworks conducted from month-to-month.
A GIS portal, accessible from anywhere in the world, was specially created for this project. It works like an old-fashioned light table. Viewers can, for example, overlay drawings of the airport design onto aerial photos of the actual progress at a given date, and compare progress to design.
Zutari’s Field Force application, customised for this project, is being used on site to capture and log site progress photos, safety assessments and inspection test results with further customisation as required. VR was also used to view the 3D architectural design of the proposed terminal building, together with the client and project team, creating new conversations.
*The Aurecon Africa business has been officially renamed Zutari as at 21 July 2020. Zutari acquired Aurecon Middle East on 20 November 2020.