The Collapse of Charles De Gaulle International Airport

Powerful Essays
Collapse of Charles De Gaulle


Charles de Gaulle International Airport terminal 2E was built in 2003 with capacity to handle up to 34.7 million passengers. The $950 million airport was one of the world’s largest international airports. However it started facing problems after one year and on the morning of May 23, 2004 it collapsed. A section of 110ft of Terminal 2E collapsed, causing the loss of four lives and injuring three others. Due to the critical nature of this engineering failure, the remaining section of the terminal was later torn down. After the terminal collapsed and the architecture company hired for designing, executing and operating the terminal was sentenced with involuntary homicide charges (John Conway), a new terminal was rebuilt following similar design plans but replacing the faulty concrete blocks with steel and metal structures so to prevent any future similar disaster. The new extension was completed and reopened in March 2008.

I. Structure of the terminal

The terminal was acclaimed for its innovative design and optimized use of space based on a vault design concept. Vault design is a roof structure design in which the roof is supported by an interconnected system of arches where no internal support, such as pillars, is needed. Consequently, this design provides greater open space within the structure, which is one of the priority concerns in an airport terminal. This construction design was first employed by Ancient Egyptians, later being also used in Roman architecture and improved by the Byzantines (Encyclopedia Britannica). However, questions were raised as to the extent in which the wide and elliptical vault design of Terminal 2E caused an unnecessary overstress to the system – “T...

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1) "Archive Analysis of De Report." N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

2) "Asp Torres Paris Report." N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014

3) Conway, John. "Terminal 2E at Charles De Gaulle Airport." N.p., Mar. 2005. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

4) The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Vault (architecture)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

5) Loughran, Patrick. Failed Stone: Problems and Solutions with Concrete and Masonry. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2007. Print.

6) Torres, Pablo. "Final Report-CDG Terminal 2E." N.p., Dec. 2004. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

7) Bolton, Andrew. "The Official Explanation of Last Year's Charles De Gaulle Airport Collapse Still Has Some Significant Gaps." Civil Engineering and Construction News, Engineering Jobs and News on Major Infrastructure Projects from New Civil Engineer (NCE). N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.
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