Case Study

Manchester Airport

Project details

Project: Manchester Airport
Brands: Promat
Installations and Sytems: Compartmentation, firestopping load-bearing structures, floors, ceilings, blast protection
Installer: Pascall+Watson
Subcontractor: The Invicta Group

Project Overview

Promat has played a key role in the £1bn Manchester Airport Transformation Programme (MAN-TP), which will see the airport significantly grow and modernise throughout the early 2020s in order to become a world-class transport hub.

This investment will involve the creation of an entirely new Terminal 1, doubling the size of Terminal 2 and include major upgrades to Terminal 3. To accommodate this growth, eight new transformer units were added to improve the airport’s electrical supply.

To ensure these transformer units were properly protected, a DURASTEEL® system was used to create ceilings around them that would provide both fire and blast protection while simultaneously solving a number of tricky building design challenges.


Design and specification:

The buildings that house the transformers need to minimise the impact of any potential fires or explosions as much as possible. This is especially crucial within an airport as, while not connected to the terminals, should the fire spread it could knock out the electricity or significantly affect operations for a critical piece of national transport infrastructure.

An additional design complexity was that the ceiling would have to self-span across a large distance while still having the strength to accommodate maintenance loads from above, have services hung from below and include movement joints at the interface between the boards and the walls.

To solve this, Promat advised the architects at an early stage of the project to use DURASTEEL® to create a bespoke, 60-minute fire-rated ceiling that would be strong enough to cope with the structural challenges. The flexibility of the DURASTEEL® system means it flexes to absorb the energy from a blast, instead of breaking. This property meant that it met the project’s blast resistance requirements. Promat also provided the structural engineers with access to its proprietary blast software to help develop the design and ensure that the structure of the transformer buildings would meet the required criteria.


The project’s subcontractor The Invicta Group coordinated a final design with the third party structural and fire engineers, which involved over 300m2 of DURASTEEL® being used for the transformer room ceilings.

Normally, drop rods would be fixed from the concrete above which would make it easier to install fire-resistant boards. However, for this project the ceiling would also have to act as a floor so the boards were attached to the ceiling’s surrounding steel frame. Thanks to the strength of the boards, they could be installed in this manner and still be able to support the weight of maintenance crews walking on top of them as well as building services such as ducts, cables and lights that would be suspended below.

On completion, Promat attended the project to certify that the installation was in line with its guidelines and that it met the third-party certification requirements and structural engineer’s design.

Final results:

Manchester Airport’s new transformer buildings presented a unique challenge, as it’s not often that this blend of structural and fire safety properties is required at one time. Being able to meet all these criteria demonstrates the flexibility and versatility of the DURASTEEL® system.

Benn Larkin, Sales Manager at Invicta, said: “Overall, this was a successful installation closely coordinated with the project team, and was completed well within the required timeframe for energisation of certain areas/rooms.”

The expertise and experience that both Promat and Invicta have in working on demanding projects meant that they could provide the design and installation support required for Manchester Airport to specify a high-performance ceiling, safe in the knowledge that it would meet the demands of the Manchester Airport Transformation Programme.

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