Ensuring resilience for critical flight systems


One of the busiest airports in the UK, Manchester Airport is the largest airport outside London with over 210 destinations served by 70 airlines. Plans are underway to double the size of some areas of the airport over a ten-year period. To support this increasing expansion, Sudlows have been commissioned to deliver a number of technical upgrades to the airport’s existing data centre. 

The mechanical team at Sudlows installed a series of upgrades to the airport’s infrastructure, installing two new cooling systems that will deliver carbon savings of over 31,000kg of CO2, every year, compared to the previous legacy equipment. 

The installations were undertaken in two of the airports existing computer rooms, which both had ageing cooling systems that were over 16 years. These were reaching the end of their operational life and would soon be out of use due to new technologies coming into play. Therefore, Sudlows proposed to install Airedale Smartcool dual circuit R410a downflow CRAC units to place the redundant units. 

Before the project could begin, careful planning was undertaken to ensure the best possible systems were being installed. Sudlows went through an intensive planning and design stage to ensure every angle was covered. It was critical that the new units were resilient and reliable as the computer rooms were controlling critical systems such as the lighting for the runway. Therefore, it was highly important the systems would not affect the operation of these critical operations for the airport. 

There were some challenges for the project as it was in a critical and high security environment, which is why the planning phase was so important to ensure, in terms of security, everything ran smoothly. Additionally, as Sudlows were removing the redundant unit, cooling to the comms rooms would be lost during this time, so temporary cooling procedures were put in place to ensure staff and passenger safety during this time. 

Stuart Gaffney, Project Manager for Manchester Airport commented: “Manchester is one of the leading UK airports and this new mechanical upgrade to two of our existing data centres will deliver a highly resilient and energy efficient cooling infrastructure to our facilities.” 

The new technology installed was not only resilient and reliable, but also offers a much higher cooling capacity. Additional to this, they are much quieter and provide more air delivery, which means the hot spots in the room have been eradicated, making it a much safer option for this critical environment. The works were carried out to a strict six-week time scale to ensure minimal disruption to the airport.

Gary Frith, Mechanical Services Director at Sudlows commented: “Manchester Airport has chosen the ideal time to commission this upgrade to its cooling systems. This project is a great example of the direct benefits that any company can witness when considering replacing its legacy cooling systems with a more environmental and energy efficient system.”


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