Integrated trials commence: Testers from Berlin and Brandenburg try out their new airport07.02.2012
Trial operations using volunteer testers officially began today. 116 days before the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport opens, the first passengers checked in. Approximately 250 airport testers were ferried to BER in shuttle buses, where they simulated departing passengers. All the processes involved in a normal flight were tested, from check-in to security checkpoints and boarding.
“Starting today, we will spend almost four months checking all the aspects of normal flight operations at BER. From now until May, 10,000 airport testers will play the role of passengers and help us to simulate the processes at Berlin Brandenburg Airport as realistically as possible,” said Prof. Dr Rainer Schwarz, CEO of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH. “We are delighted to be able to show the volunteers from Berlin and Brandenburg their new airport before it actually opens.”
“During trial operations at Berlin Brandenburg Airport, we will try out all our systems and processes,” explained Dr Manfred A. Körtgen, Managing Director of Operations/BBI at Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH. “Our aim is to identify and rectify any errors in the workflows before the airport opens. With the help of the substitute passengers, we want to pave the way for real operations to commence as smoothly as possible on 3 June.”
Schedule for trial operations using airport testers
Following a safety briefing – BER remains a building site and appropriate precautions must be taken – and an explanation of the day’s schedule, the volunteers were allowed to enter the new terminal as its first wave of passengers. Today’s simulated departures included flights to Vienna, Munich and London operated by airberlin, Lufthansa and easyJet respectively. Allocated to the various flights, the airport testers headed for their check-in desks pushing trolleys laden with suitcases which were provided for the test run. After checking in their luggage and receiving their boarding passes, they went through the security checkpoints operated by the German police force. These checkpoints are the only ones in the country with a tray return system. Once through security, the testers proceeded to the main pier at the other end of the terminal, where they simulated boarding at their gate.
As well as practising the normal procedure from check-in to security and boarding, some airport testers were given “event cards” to enact exceptional scenarios. These special situations included withdrawing from a flight after checking in and asking to change seats when boarding.
After this first test run, all the participants returned to the tent where they had received their morning briefing to enjoy the packed lunches which were provided. Following a 45-minute break, the second trial began. Here too, the processes involved in normal flight operations were tested, from check-in to security and boarding. At the end of the day’s tests, each volunteer was presented with a small souvenir as a thank-you for taking part in the trial operations at Berlin Brandenburg Airport.
Work has been under way since September 2006 to transform Schoenefeld Airport into the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport. From 3 June 2012, this airport in South-East Berlin will handle all flights to and from the Berlin Brandenburg region. As step one of the process, Tempelhof Airport was closed on 30 October 2008. Tegel Airport will be shut down in 2012 when BER opens.