Mariscal Sucre International Airport

Quito, Ecuador

In 2006, Quiport Corporation, in conjunction with AECON and Andrade Gutierrez began construction of a new international airport to serve Quito, Ecuador.  Urban sprawl, high altitude and changing aviation needs had made Quito’s existing airport location problematic, so operators decided to construct a facility 11 miles east of the city.


  • The Challenge

    The airport’s operators approached RWDI for insight into:

    How airport operations would affect the surrounding area. In order to secure funding and approval, our clients needed a full environmental assessment of noise and air quality impacts associated with expected airport operations. In the near term, operators also wanted to understand the environmental impacts of the airport’s construction – and in particular dust generation. All environmental analysis for the project had to comply with applicable standards used in North America, Europe and by the World Health Organization.

    How the surrounding area would affect the airport. Quiport also wanted to know how local wind and atmospheric conditions would impact flights departing from and arriving at the new facility. Upper air turbulence was particularly important because the site is located in the high Andes at an elevation of 8,000 feet (2438 meters).

  • Our Approach

    Our advanced technology and modeling capabilities allowed us to deliver in-depth analysis of air quality, noise, vibration and other environmental impacts. Our in-house meteorology specialists developed high-quality modeling for wind and atmospheric conditions at the site, augmenting their models with a full year of upper air measurements reaching to 13,123 (4,000 meters) above surface. Both capabilities were vital to Quiport Corporation and the airport’s construction contractor, AECON, as they worked to fulfill regulatory requirements and ensure safe, responsible operations at the new airport.

    The airport’s builders and operators engaged us to deliver:

    A fugitive dust study (2009). As the airport was being constructed, we were retained to examine current and historic dust generation patterns at the site, to review existing dust control protocols, and to produce a set of recommendations for enhanced dust mitigation.

    Forecasts of air quality and noise around the site (2009). As part of the airport’s environmental assessment, regulators required an evidence-based picture of current and future air quality impacts. Our measurement, monitoring, and modeling capabilities let us deliver detailed noise and air quality projections based on the expected scale and configuration of airport operations in 2010, 2020 and 2030. The assessment we produced was based on the long-term monitoring of particulate matter in the area around the airport; the collection of advanced upper-air data (a significant technical challenge); and careful analysis of operational factors that would affect local air quality over time, such as runway changes and the evolution of the aircraft fleet.

    An Atmospheric Turbulence and Wind Conditions Assessment (2010). We used a two-pronged approach to help Quiport understand upper air turbulence. We conducted atmospheric profiling up to 13,123 feet (4,000 meters) using the most powerful Sonic Detection And Ranging (SODAR) technology in existence. We also carried out weather research and forecasting (WRF) modeling, analyzing a full year in order to deliver a comprehensive assessment of meteorological conditions in the region surrounding the airport. Local weather patterns have implications for a range of operational and environmental issues, so our detailed projections helped Quiport Corporation gain valuable insight into how the airport site and its surroundings would interact.

    Our upper atmospheric studies revealed a turbulent zone at about 4,921 feet (1,500 meters) above the site where two valley flows collide. This has been also verified by anecdotal pilot experience since the airport has opened. The study provided useful insight into the causes of an aviation disturbance. Knowing the cause of the turbulence and that it likely is in a relatively narrow altitude band allows for greater aviation confidence.

  • The Outcome

    The Mariscal Sucre International Airport opened in 2013 and has been connecting Ecuador with the world since that time. The United Nations recognized the airport’s environmental and sustainability efforts with several awards, including the Global Sustainability Award (2009), Best Practices in Environmental Sustainability in the Americas (2009), and a Social Responsibility Award (2011). Our air quality measurement campaigns were noted in the award citations.