Learning to Manage Mega Projects: The case of BAA and Heathrow Terminal 5

Tim Brady, Andrew Davies, David Gann, Howard Rush

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


This paper examines how over the past decade BAA - a major clients and project management organisation implemented a strategic programme of capability building to improve the management of projects at Heathrow airport. These range from the routine capital projects to a one-off mega-project - Terminal 5 (T5). The paper concentrates on the learning gained from previous projects, individuals and organisations that contributed to the innovative approach used to manage the T5 project. The T5 project uses 'integrated team working' to ensure that safety, time, budget and quality constraints are met. It has already reached 50% completion (March 2005) on time, within budget and with a high safety record. Under the 'T5 agreement', BAA holds all the risks associated with the project rather than transferring the risks to external suppliers. The T5 project is Europe's largest and most complex project. The project, which has been called a 'landmark project' is also an example of a 'megaproject' (Flyvbjerg et al, 2003) because of it's scale, intensity and high cost and its potential to transform the practices of the UK construction industry. It is broken down into 16 major projects and 147 subprojects. At any one time the project employs up to 6,000 workers and as many as 60, 000 people will have been involved in the project over its lifetime. The goal of the project is to increase the airport's current capacity of 67 million passengers a year to 95 million a year.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIRNOP VII Project Research Conference
Publication statusPublished - 2006
EventIRNOP VII Project Research Conference - Xi'an, China
Duration: 1 Jan 2006 → …


ConferenceIRNOP VII Project Research Conference
Period1/01/06 → …


  • Heathrow Terminal 5 (T5)
  • Megaprojects
  • Project management
  • Complex Product Systems (CoPs)


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