Editor's note: Aviation Week reporter James Ott gives us an up-close view on the opening of the new Indianapolis International Airport. You can read his story (subscribers only) in today's Aviation Daily. And click here to listen to a quick 1-minute Podcast on new security technology with Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Lauren Gaches and Indianapolis Federal Security Director David Kane.
Workmen of all stripes put the finishing touches on the new Indianapolis International Airport for its grand opening Nov. 11. It's the first newly constructed airport facility since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Local people have already seen the obvious features of the $1.3-billion facility including the new terminal but only from the outside during community days. They and other users of the airport will be surprised when they see the finished product.
Arriving aircraft that landed in the later hours of Nov. 10, unloaded passengers into the new terminal. Departing passengers boarded aircraft on Tuesday, with the first one scheduled to depart at 5:50 a.m. During the day, local authorities and representatives of the dozen airlines at Indy cut a hugely long ribbon to formally open the facility.
There is no comparison between the new and old terminal facilities at Indy. The old one, its fate still in question, was 1950’s’ style that looked almost Victorian and with nary an inch of extra space for anything.
The new Col. H. Weir Cook Memorial Terminal, named after the Army Air Corps World War I and II pilot, is truly remarkable. It is an inviting space, open and airy, particularly so in what is called the Civic Plaza. In this area, local and national restaurants, a wine bar or two, are spread around the circumference.
A glass ceiling provides natural lighting. No doubt the plaza be a center of activity for passengers and visitors alike. Airport officials are talking about holding musical events particularly during holiday seasons. Art works are scattered throughout the general lobby reception area, the plaza, and the two concourses, providing a lot of interesting diversions.
The way the Transportation Security Administration and the airport handled security will be a model for any new terminal facility. Passengers may use either of the two 7-lane security areas that are connected by a sterile walkway that connects to both A and B concourses.
The security checkpoint at Indy Airport TSA has established an Expert Lane for frequent travelers who expect few problems; general lanes for those who travel less, and a third one that caters to travelers with children and the disabled. TSA equipment is the latest available.