The Charles De Gualle Airport In Paris, France

2232 words - 9 pages

On May 23, 2004, the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, whisked travelers away to their destinations and received tens of thousands more. People were busily walking to and from their appointed terminals, paying little attention to the vast ceilings protecting them from the elements; the cold, rushing wind outside, threatening to send chills down a passenger’s spine along with the accompanying noise of the departure and return of planes at Charles de Gaulle Airport. The accumulation of noise in the airport, as well as the visual distractions surrounding each individual, proved to be the distraction of 20,00 people as dust floated down from the ceiling of Terminal 2E. No one expected the roof to collapse that morning at 7:00 a.m.
The Charles de Gaulle Airport is Europe’s second largest Airport and has three terminals: Terminal one caters to international travelers; Terminal Two caters to Air France and European Airlines, and Terminal Three caters to charter flights. As one of the largest Airports in the world, it isn’t surprising that the Airport needed another terminal to cater to the increase in flight traffic which has a growing rate of 11.4% at CDG. According to John Lichfield from The Independent, “terminal 2E was part of a projected new, four terminal hubs for Air France and its partner airlines, intended to lift CDG airport above Heathraw and Frankfurt as the premier airport in Europe (Lichfield, The Independent).” Upon the completion of the massive 650m structure, their terminal was “hailed as a masterpiece (Lichfield).” After the collapse 11 months later, engineers were left baffled, but after prolonged investigation, engineers agreed on the physical cause of the collapse. The structure was under physical strain. The cracking observed was caused by long term concrete creep, catalyzed by thermal movements making up the complex curved wall. The panels started to flex under the load; they were not built to flex, therefore they deteriorated until they collapsed (Bolton, NCE) . This weakness in the structure, which included perforations of the concrete vault made to install metal support parts and the progressive degradation of concrete, combined with the unseasonably cold weather, caused the ceiling to collapse and destroyed the three connecting footbridges within a 30m perimeter of Terminal 2E.This collapse miraculously killed only four people and injured three more.
Speculation surrounding the terminal collapse is largely esoteric, but there are multiple theories that weave between one another that may have caused the collapse. Those include issues with the process and with every individual involved in the project. As with any construction project, each entity has a job to do. If an error occurs in one sector, the problem can escalate until it becomes detrimental to the entire project. It is the job of an engineer to anticipate these errors; to stay alert and to look for them as a project progresses. Any engineer may theorize...

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