INDUSTRIAL: Taking Flight

Brandt shares its work on American Airlines new catering facility at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.  

Brandt, a Southland Industries Co. based in Dallas, Texas, helped boost the efficiency of American Airlines flight catering through its work on its new 214,000-square-foot catering facility at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The project, which provided the client with an exclusive, expanded facility to support its existing food and beverage operations, involved full mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) and building information modeling (BIM), as well as linking more than 300 pieces of kitchen equipment — all while working with the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) to get approval to use cranes and helicopters during specific project phases. 

And for their efforts on this project, Brandt won a Texas and Louisiana Regional Best Project Award from the Engineering News-Record.

The new $100-million American Airlines catering facility at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is the largest airline catering kitchen in the country at more than three times the size of a football field. 

During peak travel season, the facility prepares nearly 15,000 fresh meals a day. The kitchen operates around the clock, housing various functions such as a food preparation, food and beverage processing and assembly areas, a dishwashing section, inbound and outbound docks, and warehouse and freezer storage spaces.

Brandt was responsible for the MEP scope of work, and internal coordination was vital to ensuring compatibility between trades. Early integration of MEP BIM coordination set the stage for successful prefabrication and field installation, resulting in numerous cost and schedule savings.

The project’s complex MEP installations included chilled water, hot water, ice melt system, condensate drains, refrigerant piping, fire alarm systems and lightning protection.

Brandt was also responsible for installing site and exterior lighting and switchgear, including redundant 4000A utility services, power distribution to HVAC equipment, MEP connections for commercial kitchen equipment and MEP within multiple large coolers and freezers for food preparation and storage.

Since this was an industrial food and beverage facility, stainless steel ducts were required for areas that regularly deal with temperature extremes and water exposure. This is to limit corrosion. Brandt fabricates all of the ducts it installs in its projects, including this one. 

Brandt’s design and construction team faced various challenges during the project. To keep the project on schedule, Brandt worked closely with Holt Construction (the general contractor) and gained partial access to completed areas in stages. They also employed prefabricated systems to expedite onsite installation, ultimately reducing schedule impacts.

Due to the project’s proximity to the airport and the presence of flight paths, lifting equipment had to comply with strict regulations. Brandt directly coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration up to six months in advance to utilize helicopters and smaller cranes for lifts within its weight capacity to place rooftop units like chillers, air handlers and exhaust fans. 

Brandt is also proud of its Live It™ program, which it ingrains in its daily work processes, including on this project that began in 2019 and was completed in 2023. The program ensures safety on every project is visible from everyone in the company, that hazard assessment and mitigation take place daily, and that safety milestones are celebrated. On this job, Brandt worked more than 113,000 hours safely. 

Stainless steel ducts were important to use at this food and beverage facility to better handle  temperature extremes and water exposure. 

For its work on the project, Brandt won an award from the Engineering News-Record, which provides engineering and construction news and reports on the top construction companies. Three separate judging panels collectively reviewed more than 100 award entries, examining factors such as safety, innovation, craft quality and industry benefit to determine the award winners. Brandt won the award in the specialty construction category.