Fostering innovative ideas is among the many benefits Partnering brings to project stakeholders. Facilitated by Neal Flesner of VELO Group, the project team at the recently opened Mauka Concourse at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Honolulu, Hawaii developed various innovations, including the extensive use of construction drones, to meet the project’s goals established during the initial Partnering session.

General Contractor Hensel Phelps conducted the initial drone flight to map the entire site before demolition of the existing structures. From that time on, they conducted weekly drone flights over the airport replacement project site to assist with daily work planning, safety briefings, progress reports, quality control and project-wide communication.

The $270 million Mauka Concourse project, began on June 1, 2018, and opened on August 27, 2021. Marking the first gate expansion in nearly three decades, the project included construction of a 230,000-square-foot concourse that can accommodate up to 11 aircraft at any given time.

Other notable features highlighted in a Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation (HDOT) news release include a new security checkpoint with capacity for up to six lanes that will allow passengers to get through entry lines faster and in less-crowded conditions.

To fulfill HDOT’s commitment to improving the sustainability of transportation, the project is targeting LEED Gold Certification from the US Green Build Council (USGBC). Some of the sustainable strategies KYA Design Group incorporated into the new concourse to achieve this certification include skylights and windows to make the best use of natural light, energy efficient LED lighting, a high-performance building envelope to reduce solar heat gain, and ventilation shafts to direct air conditioning at the human level instead of cooling the whole structure.

According to KYA Design Group, a key part of the project’s sustainability was the use of eco-shafts, which served as the main structural framing and eliminated the need for interior walls. This feature also gives passengers more room to spread out at the gate while waiting for their planes, and provides future space flexibility.

During the project’s dedication ceremony, Department of Transportation Airports Division Deputy Director Ross Higashi not only recognized the state Department of Transportation — Airports Division engineering team for their dedication and commitment to the project, but also acknowledged KYA, Hensel Phelps, AECOM, and the Airlines Committee of Hawaii — all of whom he said, “worked collaboratively with the State Airports Team to build this aesthetically pleasing and modernized concourse.”

Congratulations to all the project team members who partnered in unison to develop solutions for this complex project. The result is an inviting gateway for visitors and locals that is truly reflective of Hawaii’s Aloha culture, and of which all stakeholders can be proud.


Hawaii Department of Transportation

Construction Manager

Hensel Phelps
General Contractor

KYA Design Group

Neal Flesner
Partnering Consultant

Check out a video tour of the project HERE
Read more about the project’s innovative drone usage HERE

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