Scandal surrounding Berlin’s new international airport has intensified following the revelation that one of the designers of its fire safety system – the chief source of lengthy project delays – misrepresented his engineering credentials.
One of the key designers of the fire safety system for the Berlin’s new airport has confessed to misrepresenting his professional qualifications and overstating his level of education.
Stern magazine has reported that Alfredo Di Mauro, who was fired from the project in May of this year, was not as an engineer as advertised by his business cards, but instead an engineering draftsman.
According to Di Mauro, the engineering firm he worked for at the time had mistakenly added the initials “Dipl.-lng” to his personal business cards.
This was not the first occasion that Di Mauro had misrepresented his professional qualifications however, with Stern claiming that he was the subject of complaints in 2002 for falsely claiming to be an architect while working on the construction of an underground garage for a medical centre.
Speaking to the German media, Di Mauro admitted he failed to inform the airport about his lack of advertised credentials, but maintained that he was nonetheless capable of performing the design work with which he had been entrusted.
“No one asked about my university qualifications; that wasn’t necessary for the work we carried out,” said Di Mauro to Spreeradio.
Despite Di Mauro’s claims, the news further compounds the scandal and embarrassment surrounding the construction of Berlin’s new international airport, particularly given the fact that the fire safety system for which Di Mauro was partially responsible is cited by officials as the chief reason that the project is running grossly over budget and behind schedule.
BER, which is intended to symbolise the reunification of Germany by supplanting the capital city’s two Cold War era airports of Tegel and Schoenefeld, is now more than two years behind schedule after having originally been slated to open on June 3, 2012.
The total cost of the airport is now estimated to have reached five billion euros – nearly three times more than the 1.7 billion euros originally budgeted for the project.
BER spokesman Ralf Kunkel directly imputed the lengthy delays to problems with the airport’s fire safety system. Airport fire safety systems are subject to intense regulatory scrutiny in Germany following a catastrophic fire which occurred in Dusseldorf airport in 1996 and left 17 people dead.
A progress report for BER issued in late April discovered that the airport’s smoke extraction mechanism was still defective – the very problem which lay behind the disastrous fire in Dusseldorf.
The problems besetting BER are highly embarrassing for Germany’s world-renowned engineering sector, particularly given the symbolic nature and landmark status of the project.