The Drive-By Platform
Across the Asphalt to Terminal 3

The Challenge of Building Bridges

Spanning roughly 550 by 30 meters (with a surface area of 15,300 square meters), the drive-by platform has a height of around 10 meters and is flanked by the access and exit ramps. It will let cars and cabs drive straight up to the entrance to the check-in hall and park on short-stay spaces there.

The work to build the foundation for the drive-by platform is clearly visible in this bird’s-eye view.

Some of the massive supports are already standing in rows, with the formwork removed.

V-shaped supports hold up the drive-by platform, which travelers and visitors will reach via an access ramp that has already been completed.

The supports hold a paved superstructure that constitutes the platform. 

The drive-by platform rests on a total of 70 V-shaped supports. 

It is flanked by access and exit ramps. 

The drive-by platform is being completed step by step.

Here you can see the platform’s finished surface.  

Later, passengers will use the drive-by platform … 

… to get straight to the main terminal building. 

Access for passengers arriving by car

The drive-by platform of Terminal 3 was completed and passed inspection in February 2023. Measuring 500 meters long by nearly 30 meters wide, this bridge-like structure will be used by travelers to reach the terminal by car. Work to build it began in mid-2019 by driving supporting piles 13 meters deep into the ground. This was a challenge for the construction workers: they had to achieve centimeter precision using equipment that weighed up to 155 tonnes. The piles were topped by caps on which the 70 supports for the platform would rest. Of these, 56 were installed in a straight line stretching from east to west. In addition to holding up the platform, they contain cavities for installing pipes, e.g. for wastewater. 

V for Very Special Requirements

The characteristic V-shape of the supports posed special requirements that the structural engineers needed to take into account when drawing up the plans. Before giving the go-ahead, they therefore began by testing a full-size trial version to see if their plans could actually be put into practice. The starting gun for making the V-shaped supports didn’t go off until the first quarter of 2020. As soon as a few of them had been finished, preparations for creating the superstructure began. It was necessary to pour concrete in a total of fourteen 36-meter-long sections so that all travelers and visitors would later be able to conveniently access the main terminal building. (Here you can see how the V-shaped supports were created).

Customized formwork wagons

An elevated drive-by platform lets passengers arriving by car or taxi go straight to the entrance of the new Terminal 3 on the departures level. It measures more than half a kilometer long by three meters wide. The concrete for the individual sections was poured in shallow formwork basins. After it cured, the formwork was removed and reused for another section. The construction workers used so-called formwork wagons for this, in other words huge mobile support structures integrating all relevant parts for a section. The company of PERI supplied them for Terminal 3.

How it looks: the drive-by platform with its distinctive V-shaped supports.

And here at a curve. But how was it made?

A completely cast section of the drive-by platform. Photograph courtesy of PERI in Weissenhorn, Germany

The premade formwork for the sharply angled V-shaped supports of the drive-by platform posed special challenges. Photograph courtesy of PERI in Weissenhorn, Germany

Customized so-called formwork wagons – gigantic movable constructions – were essential for the surfacing work. They carried the formwork for pouring the concrete a section at a time.

It can take up to 16 hours to pour the concrete for a single section, and it’s essential to avoid interrupting the work. Photograph courtesy of PERI in Weissenhorn, Germany

A gigantic construction site like the one for the new terminal bustles with activity until late in the evening. Photograph courtesy of PERI in Weissenhorn, Germany

After a section has been poured and cured, integrated hydraulics advance the formwork wagon, which weighs tonnes, to begin work on the next section. Photograph courtesy of PERI in Weissenhorn, Germany

Work to create the bridge of the drive-by platform, which is as large as two soccer fields …

… and comprises a total of 14 sections, each of which is about 40 meters long.

View of the bridge of the drive-by platform from above.

Frankfurt Airport’s new Terminal 3 will probably begin operating in 2026. The drive-by platform will let passengers go straight to the departures level.