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Heathrow Airport in lighting maintenance controversy

Heathrow Airport in lighting maintenance controversy

Tuesday 26 November 2013

How many people does it take to change a light bulb at Heathrow Terminal 5? This question is no joke for bosses at Heathrow Airport after a story broke about abseilers being called in to change lamps.

According to news site Exaron, many of the tens of thousands of lamps that illuminate the T5 ceiling have failed and the airport has been unable to replace them. The news site quoted an email to staff from Vicki O’Brien, head of Heathrow Customer Service at British Airways, saying that it had looked into ways of changing lamps including gondolas and high-level cherry pickers. It said these haven’t been practical or safe. Exaron said a specialist company has now been called in to change the lights via high-level rope work.

The story has since been picked up by media including The Sunday Times and Mailonline. Despite the media frenzy, it is not unusual for highly-trained abseilers to be used when performing lighting maintenance on large buildings. Terminal 5 has a high-level gantry system, although the airport has not said why this is not being used for the job.

A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport told Lighting: “The current lighting on the Terminal 5 concourse is being replaced with environmentally friendly LED bulbs that will last for up to five years. Contingency lighting has been used on the concourse while a viable and safe solution of replacing the lights was being agreed.”

Exaron also claimed that concourse staff have asked for their task lights to be replaced because they aren’t bright enough.

The T5 room has a span of 156m, and is 396m long. At its highest point it is 37 metres above ground and the roof houses thousands of luminaires.

The Terminal’s architects are Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (formerly Richard Rogers Partnership) who said a number of options were presented and discussed with Heathrow and the airport chose the current design.


    Heathrow Airport.


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