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Bae Systems Project

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BAE Case Project

Group 10: Helena Otero, Juan Otero, Raul Santos, and Jorge Plasencia

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

IS 378, Section 1004

Dr. Honghui Deng

October 23, 2018


In November of 1989, the city of Denver began building the Denver International Airport (DIA). The airport had a prime location that was 25 miles from downtown Denver, Colorado. It was intended to be a superior airport due to its proclaimed advanced technology and efficiency. The airport was built out of necessity due to the current Stapleton Airport being unable to meet the demands for an ever-growing local economy. In the planning stage, the city and the contracted consulting firms made a grave mistake by neglecting the importance of a baggage system. Construction was in its final stages by the time management realized that the Denver International Airport needed a state-of-the-art automated baggage system. As a result, BAE Automated Systems, Inc. was hired to complete the system.


        The BAE project was unsuccessful, largely since it did not include a promising scope or project plan. In addition, the project consisted of many failures such as, poorly developed technology, the size of the project, the system design, time needed for completion and financial constraints. These issues were worsened by the lack of communication from the stakeholders. The failure of this project was demonstrated through the continued need to extend the airport opening.

Project Scope

        Simply put, project scope is the mutual understanding among stakeholders to know what’s needed to go into a project and what factors define a successful completion. A well-thought-out scope involves a checklist of six key elements. The following list includes the six elements of scope and explanations of how the BAE project either succeeded or failed to execute these aspects:

  1. Project Objective

Denver International Airport wanted BAE to expand the already started United Airlines project concept which resulted in scope creep. BAE promised to develop an efficient, reliable and future flexible system. Additional objectives included:

  1. Save ground time
  2. Reduce closeout time for hub operations
  3. Cut time needed for baggage sorting and handling
  1. Deliverables.

BAE built a prototype automated baggage system in Carrollton, Texas. This was the first of its deliverables. It finally ended with two systems, a working automated system and an additional backup system that served other airlines. This was not what the client intended; therefore, the deliverable was a disappointment.

  1. Milestones.

The milestones were as mechanical design, software designs, and permanent power requirements.

  1. Technical Requirements.
  1. All-around access
  2. Timely completion of certain areas
  3. Provision of permanent power
  4. Provision of computer rooms
  1. Limits and Exclusions.

There was a failure to include limits and exclusions. By doing so, they broke contract in the project by outsourcing contractors in lieu of BAE employees. This was a limit/exclusion that was not discussed with the client before signing the contractual agreement.

  1. Reviews with Customer

Chief Airport Engineer Walter Slinger was convinced that the project would be attainable after witnessing the prototype. Throughout the project, it seemed that BAE and DIA did not keep in close communication or ensure that their customers’ needs were being met. This can be demonstrated by the various airlines requesting for system changes and ski claim area lengths being changed twice.

BAE agreed to a fixed scope that was defined by the Denver International Airport. The time-frame was too short, and BAE knew they would be unable to complete the project within the proposed period. Therefore, the scope was never fully developed or devised within reason or capability by BAE. This was the first of many failures by BAE.

Planning and Design

        According to DiFonso, in the fall of ’91, BAE was contracted by United Airlines to build a baggage system at the new and improved Denver International Airport. The airline was especially concerned that the airport hadn’t considered building a baggage system. Denver’s baggage system was indeed an afterthought and that was evident in the layout of the airport. When construction of the automated baggage system began, problems arose since the buildings and structures got in the way of the systems tracks and other components. The system had to get into underground tunnels and available space. They wasted resources by breaking down newly constructed parts of the airport for their expanded bag system project.
        There was a clear lack in the structure of BAE’s team while Di Fonso was PM for the first 2 years. The work was only broken down into three ambiguous sections: mechanical engineering, industrial control, and software design. In addition, the customer’s needs were not met, and BAE failed to deliver what airlines wanted in system design; “To further complicate matters, the airlines began requesting changes to the system's design even though the mechanical and software designs were supposed to be frozen.” BAE even had to change their work structure for the DIA’s project. Constant changes to plans and structure resulted in further confusion among stakeholders.


The stakeholders of this project consisted of the following entities:

  1. City of Denver
  2. Denver International Airport
  3. United Airlines
  4. BAE Automated Systems, Inc.
  5. Colorado mayor Federico Pena
  6. Federal Aviation Administration Commissioners
  7. Denver Mayor Wellington Webb
  8. Logplan
  9. Greiner, Inc. and Morrison-Knudsen Engineers
  10. Chief Airport Engineer Walter Slinger
  11. Chief Airport Engineer Gail Edmond


        The cost of the construction of the Denver International Airport incremented along the time it was being built. In April 1992, BAE Automated Systems, Inc. was contracted to build Denver’s airport baggage system for $175.6 million. In August 1992, baggage elevators were added at a cost of $1.61 million and automated baggage sorting systems were added at a cost of $4.67 million. In 1993, the ski area length was changed at a cost of $295,800 and maintenance tracks were placed for $912,000. In 1994, United called for a change in the size of baggage, which cost $432,000. After the Denver International Airport failed to make it to the date it was set to open, the city estimated this setback would cost $330,000 per month. In August 1994, Logplan recommended a backup baggage system at a total cost of $60.5 million.



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