Learning to Deliver a Mega-project: The Case of Heathrow Terminal 5

Tim Brady, Andrew Davies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


Most ‘mega’ projects are overdue, over budget and fail to meet the client’s original specifications (Flyvbjerg et al, 2003). Cost overruns of 50% are typical and overruns of 100% not unusual. The reconstruction of Wembley Stadium, for example, ended up 80% over budget and four years later than originally planned. For a long time, Heathrow’s Terminal 5 appeared to be bucking the trend, it was on schedule and to budget, only for defeat seeming to be clutched from the jaws of victory at its official opening on March 27th 2008 when “what should have been an occasion of national pride was in fact an occasion of national embarrassment.” (HC 543, 2008). Multiple problems arose with the baggage handling system, issues with staff car parking, and security procedures for staff needing to move airside. The newspaper headlines that week were damning. That the building had been delivered on time and to budget was forgotten in the wave of bad publicity which left a general perception that T5 was another failure when in fact it had much to celebrate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProcuring Complex Performance: Studies of Innovation in Product-Service Management
EditorsNigel Caldwell, Mickey Howard
Place of PublicationNew York, USA
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9780415800051
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • Mega project
  • Project performance
  • Innovative approach
  • Learning from projects
  • Project capabilities
  • Heathrow
  • Innovation


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