Thursday, April 14, 2011

Toronto Pearson Airport High-Speed Walkway

Every now and then when I travel I stumble upon something unique that catches my eye.  Being a mechanical engineer (at least that is what my diploma says), I tend to look at technological items with a  curious fascination. 

On my way to China, I went through Toronto Pearson International Airport.  Unfortunately, because I fly into Toronto from Richmond, VA, which isn’t a very large airport, I don’t get to fly on a big jet into Toronto and as you know, the small planes don’t park close to the airport Terminal.

In fact, it was on one of these small planes into Toronto that I first “lost it” on a commercial airline, but that is another story.  As a piece of advice though, if you happen to fly on a Beech 1900D, don’t take seat 1A.  Although you may think you are getting the best seat in the plane with the most legroom, you aren’t getting a window.  And when flying through a thunderstorm in a tin can without a window to look out and get your bearings, and all you see ahead of you is the cockpit and flashes of light from lightning through the front window (because there is no cockpit door or even a curtain), you will be wishing you were on solid ground while you fumble for the air sickness bag.

On the journey to the terminal from the gate, because it was more than just a walk, I came across a high-speed walkway.  It was the coolest thing I had seen in an airport.  As I stepped on, the walkway panels below me started to expand and speed up, as did the handrail.  Soon I was flying past the people walking both on the regular floor and the normal moving escalator. 

At the end, it worked in reverse and the platforms started to move together, closing up the platform underneath, and slowing down at the same time.  At the end, I stepped off as though I was walking off an ordinary moving walkway.  The statistics say that a commuter using a walkway like this twice a day would save 15 minutes a week and 10 hours a year.  But this is in an airport, and it saved me maybe 30-40 seconds overall.  Not sure the overall benefits are there for how much I am assuming it might have cost, but overall, it was pretty cool!

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