Changi International Airport
Changi International Airport, located at the eastern edge of Singapore, was officially opened on 29 December 1981. It was built mainly on reclaimed land near where originally the World War II Changi airbase had stood. When it first opened, the airport had several firsts, including being the world's largest airport and having the world's largest column-free hanger at 20,000 sq m.
From the day it opened, the airport has won many accolades including several firsts. These include being the world's largest airport at the time its opening and having the world's largest column-free hanger at 20,000 sq m.
The Changi airbase had been built by prisoners-of-war between 1943 to 1944. The north-south and east-west strips located in northeast point of Singapore was merely an unpaved, thinly grassed runway when the RAF took over the airbase in 1946. Japanese prisoners then added perforated steel plates on the east-west strip and the north-south runway were also strengthened, the latter serving as the main runway for military aircraft until 1949.
In the early 1970s, Paya Lebar Airport, Singapore's existing civil airport proved to have insufficient room for future expansion. A new location was sought for an airport where it would not interfere with high-rise developments. Changi airbase was selected as the site for the new airport.
Plans for the new airport included two runways, three passenger terminals with a possibility of constructing a fourth terminal building. Vital support facilities to be built included aircraft engineering support, in-flight catering services, fire stations and utilities. In June 1975, preparation work on the Changi airbase site for an international airport was started. At least 870 ha of land was reclaimed, an amount sufficient to cover Sentosa. Canals were constructed to divert water from the three existing streams; Sungei Tanah Merah Besar, Sungei Ayer Gemuroh and Sungei Mata Ikan. Construction was subdivided into two phases with Phase I (Changi I) targeted for completion by 1981 and Phase II (Changi II) to be completed by mid-1980s. The cost for Phase I alone was S$1,300 million. The airport was finished in record time despite shortage of materials and workers. The speed and organisation of the airport's erection was attributed to the application of sound management principles by the Changi Airport Development Division of the Public Works Department.
The Changi International Airport became operational on 1 July 1981 and was officially opened five months later on 29 December. The first flight, SQ 101, carried 140 passengers from Kuala Lumpur, touched-down at 7:00 am on 1 July 1981.
The airport has won many accolades most often the "Best Airport in the World", a title given by various unrelated organisations such as Airport World, Business Traveller, and OAG Worldwide.
Currently, the airport has two parallel runways, 60 m wide with a 1.64 km gap separating them. When the airport first opened, only Terminal One was operational. On 22 November 1990, Terminal Two was made operational and opened officially on 1 June 1991. Terminal Two is much larger than Terminal One but both provide similar services which includes passenger transactions and transit, and restaurants and shopping areas. Both terminals combined have a capacity of 36 million passengers annually. However, a third terminal is currently being constructed with an expected capacity of 20 million passengers.
The 16-sided, 78 m Control Tower, sitting on a polygonal shaft serves not only as a necessary air-traffic control unit but has became a key icon representing the airport. Travelling along the highway towards the airport, clever landscaping and colourful plants hide the ancillary buildings and add greenery to the expansive structures. The greenery continues to penetrate the airport with planter boxes and landscaped pools within the Terminals.
Initially there was only the Skytrain providing convenient travel between the terminals. When the Changi Airport MRT Station was opened on 8 February 2002, passengers gained ease of travel from the airport right into the heart of town in air-conditioned comfort.
Passenger terminal floor area: 617,000 sq m (947, 000 sq m with completion of Terminal 3).
Handling capacity (million passengers per annum): 44.0 (60 with completion of Terminal 3).
Operator: Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.
Changi Airbase, Changi Airport, Singapore International Airport.
Bonny Muliani Tan
Changi Airport: Singapore. (1980). Singapore: Ministry of Communication; Changi Airport Development Division: Public Works Department: Department of Civil Aviation.
(Call no.: RSING 387.7362095957 CHA)
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 EDW)
Hutton, P. (1981). Wings over Singapore: The Story of Singapore Changi Airport (pp. 20-21). Singapore: MPH Magazines.
(Call no.: RSING 387.736095957 HUT)
Morton, J. K. (2001). Changi: Singapore international airport. Shrewsbury: Airlife.
(Call no.: RSING 387.736095957 MOR)
Singapore fly-past: A pictorial review of civil aviation in Singapore, 1911-1981 (pp. 79-93). (1982). Singapore: MPH Magazines.
(Call no.: RSING 387.7095957 SIN)
Kaur, K. (2002, February 9). Next stop: Changi Airport. The Straits Times, Prime News, p. 3.
Tan, C. (1999, January 30). Changi's Terminal 3 to be delayed a year. The Business Times, Weekend Edition, p. 1.
Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. (1999). Changi Airport history. Retrieved August 11, 2003, from www.asia1.com.sg/asiatest/history/nhome.html
Singapore Changi Airport. (n.d.). Changi. Retrieved December 9, 2002, from www.changi.airport.com.sg.
Nirmal K. (2002). Designing the world's best: Singapore Changi Airport. Singapore: Page One.
(Call no.: RSING 725.39095957 NIR)
All poised for the big take-off. (1981, July 1). The Straits Times, p. 1.
Planes queue up to take-off for Changi. (1981, July 1). The Straits Times, p. 12.
Sim oversees the first day's operations. (1981, July 2). The Straits Times, p. 8.
SQ 101 makes first Changi landing with 140. (1981, July 2). The Straits Times, p. 8.
The information in this article is valid as at 2001 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
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