El Dorado International Airport is the largest airport in Colombia and the second largest in Latin America, serving more than 25 million passengers annually from more than 30 airlines and accounting for more than 49 percent of the country’s total air traffic.
To accommodate such high passenger traffic, the airport’s administrators decided to add a new international terminal and selected Harman Professional audio communication hardware, which is fully integrated with Com-Net Software’s AirportVoice and (Multi-User Flight Information Display System) AirportVision product suites that not only met but exceed the new facility’s stringent requirements.
Las Vegas, NV audio/visual design and consulting company Spurgeon Design and Development has extensive experience in installing control systems for mass transit centers, casinos, theaters and other large-scale projects. “The terminal is extremely large and required a PA system that would satisfy all communications and safety requirements,” said Larry Spurgeon, President of Spurgeon Design and Development. The new terminal facility features 32 new passenger gates handling flights to more than 120 international destinations.
A key specification was that the El Dorado system had to meet a STIPA rating of .5. STIPA (Speech Transmission Index for Public Address Systems) is a measure of speech intelligibility, or how a human voice will sound when reproduced over a PA system, which many public spaces including the new El Dorado International terminal are required to meet.
“This ensures that all passengers and anyone in the terminal are able to understand service announcements in all areas of the facility,” said Spurgeon. In addition, the average SPL (sound pressure level) variation within any zone could not vary by more than plus or minus 2 dB.
As part of Com-Net’s solution and design team, Spurgeon designated a Harman Professional solution including more than 170 BSS Audio microphone/communications stations, Crown amplifiers and more than 2,000 JBL Control and CBT loudspeakers strategically placed to provide clear, consistent coverage in every area of the terminal. As an intentional relative to the Harman IDX information delivery system, Com-Net’s AirportVoice was designed to be and is fully compatible with the installed Harman hardware in conveying multi-lingual communications throughout the airport.
The work was divided into two phases, with Phase One a little over half the size of the final project and initiated in February 2013. “We built the first half of the system and had it fully operational, and then proceeded to Phase Two,” he said. “We had to build around the old terminal.”
The second phase was completed in May 2014. In the design process Spurgeon used EASE Evac software, designed specifically for acoustic simulation of information delivery systems for large spaces. Once actual construction began Spurgeon and his team had to make some modifications to the initial system design to meet the required STIPA and SPL specifications, particularly in the placement of the loudspeakers. “It’s typical to have to make some adjustments from what the model predicts when you’re building a system of this scope.”
Spurgeon noted that although the installation is massive, the fact that the hardware and software complement each other enables seamless operation. “Much of the digital signal processing is shared between the BSS Audio components and the Crown amplifiers, which is a huge benefit in having all the components communicate with one another and also in greatly simplifying the amount of wiring required, which reduced the overall cost and will provide improved reliability.” Spurgeon also noted that in the past, every installation essentially required custom programming and configuration but with the Harman products, all that effort is taken out of the equation.
The result is a system that provides state of the art paging, announcements and control, from boarding and baggage claim announcements to automated data integration services on the back-end synchronization of audio and visual information and additional elements. “ Harman hardware and Com-Net Software provide a streamlined solution to a problem that is traditionally complex; their synchronicity is invaluable in delivering this critical information,” Spurgeon said.