New Airport in Berlin: Why the airport BER has no dowel problem

New airport
:Why the BER has no dowel problem

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  • Peter Neumann

    Peter Neumann

He looks pretty ready. But almost 13 years after the groundbreaking ceremony, no passengers are still allowed to check in at BER.

He looks pretty ready. But almost 13 years after the groundbreaking ceremony, no passengers are still allowed to check in at BER.


imago / Jrgen Ritter

Berlin –

Even if the skepticism is growing, whether the planners and technicians actually succeed by then: Airport chief Engelbert Ltke Daldrup and Rainer Bretschneider, the chairman of the airport’s supervisory board, continue to consider it possible that the BER will open in October 2020 as announced. They confirmed this after the meeting of the airport board on Friday. “My assessment is: We will hold the appointment,” said Bretschneider. “We think we can do it.”

Of course that was “not an easy task”. But in terms of what was promised to the Supervisory Board at the end of 2017, one is in the predicted “corridor,” says Ltke Daldrup. “This is still valid today.” The final big technical test, the active-principle test, will start as predicted in the summer of 2019.

Dowel problem? What kind of dowel problem? According to reports, the head of the airport is annoyed that things have gone awry in communicating the supposedly recent problem in the new terminal. Ltke Daldrup evidently means himself, because at first he also spoke of plastic dowels – and plastic does not stand fire as well as metal.

Meanwhile, he emphasizes: It is all about steel dowels, with which many cable trays are fixed in reinforced concrete walls. “With the dowels, there is no technical problem,” said Ltke Daldrup. The technical systems would work.

“No Witchcraft”

Instead, this is a legal issue, more precisely a regulatory issue. Because in the past year, the perspective of lawyers has changed. The occasion was a circular sent by the Deutsches Institut fr Bautechnik in August 2018. Thereafter, subsequent approval procedures are required – which would now be prepared.

However, the FBB, the Berlin, Brandenburg and the federal government has heard that the necessary applications have not yet submitted to the State Office for Construction and Transport. This is justified by the fact that the test reports, which certify the safety of the systems, are not yet finished. But even that is not seen at FBB as a co-criterion. Procedures for project-related type approval, as they are now pending, have been in the BER project dozens of times. “This is not rocket science,” it said.

Conversions are not necessary – apart from a 25 meter long cable carrier, which is to be widened from 20 to 30 centimeters.

Furthermore no guarantee for BER opening

Not everyone on the board sees it so relaxed. “The airport company needs more time than she thought,” is heard from the environment of the panel. The testing effort is great, and with him another quantity and time problem has emerged. In the meantime, BER insiders have had painstaking experiences of growing and exploding explosive topics that are supposedly easy to work through.

They also note that Ltke Daldrup still does not want to give a guarantee for 2020. The airport boss shies away from the legal implications that such an undertaking would have. Whether the airport really can open in the coming year, lies not only at the FBB, but also at other participants. Two companies, Bosch (fire alarm systems) and ROM (cable trays), would have to finish their work in the terminal. Then followed tests and acceptances, in which the TV and the Building Authority of the district Dahme-Spreewald make the decisions. The airport company has no influence on these players, they said.

BER: Large technical test in the terminal should begin in summer

However, Ltke Daldrup saw positively that there were no major differences with the TV assessments. The examiners had also announced on Friday that the sprinkler systems, the mechanical ventilation and smoke extraction systems will soon be released.

As far as Bosch is concerned, Ltke Daldrup praised the “great commitment” to complete the fire alarm systems in the terminal. Intern was said to be ready by June, at the latest in July 2019. The work for ROM, which deals with cable trays, has been “prioritized”. This means that what is essential for the planned active-principle test must first be tackled. In the meantime, it is clear that the large technology test, which was launched for just under three months, could start in July or August 2019.

This year, the number of travelers has risen again. From the beginning of the year to May 5, a total of 11.5 million passengers were counted in Berlin – in the same period of the previous year, there were about ten million passengers.

By 2020, the BER will start with an annual capacity of 36 million passengers. In 2018, a total of 34.7 million passengers were counted in Tegel and Schnefeld.