The TWA Flight Center at New York's Idlewild Airport, which opened in 1962, provided TWA with a stylish and iconic terminal, cementing the airline's reputation as one of the great airlines of the early Jet Age.
People will be less familiar with TWA's USD 13.7-million proposed expansion of the West Dock at Greater Pittsburgh Airport. Presented in March 1966, the revolutionary concept would bring cars and airplanes within 40 paces of each other.
The bi-level oval-shaped facility, to be linked to the existing central airport terminal, would have provided a dozen gates capable of accommodating up to 16 TWA jetliners.
The upper level would have housed 12 ticket and check-in lounges for departing passengers. Baggage delivery to arriving passengers would be on the lower level.
Both levels would have been served by four-lane, one-way roadways and one above the other, circling the inner rim of the facility.
WHY TWA'S PLAN DIDN'T FLY
However revolutionary, airport experts didn't care much for TWA's idea. Airport aviation consultants Landrum & Brown were quick to point out several critical design factors that were overlooked in TWA's proposal, the most important one being that the terminal could not be expanded.
Also, the proposed plan would have only created a net gain of eight aircraft gates, bringing the total to 33, far below the airlines' request of 40-43 gates by 1970. Lastly, the needed two-way aircraft taxiway clearance, imperative because of the ramp activity in this area, was not provided.
Finally, it was decided to build a conventional pier instead. The West Dock opened in 1973.
What do you think of the design? Would it have been efficient and effective? Leave your comments below!
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Marnix (Max) Groot Founder of AirportHistory.org. Max is an airport development expert and historian.