Working on an icon: Qantas Founders Museum Airpark Roof Project

One of the iconic structures that Brisbane Northrop team worked on was the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach, Central Western Queensland. We were engaged as the civil and structural engineers for the development of the huge 9000 sqm canopy.


The canopy was developed to provide much needed shading to the Qantas 747, 707, Catalina and Constellation, ensuring their protection and longevity. Notably, this project was also aimed to cater to Qantas's 100-year anniversary event in 2020, marking a historic milestone in the airline's journey. Additionally, the canopy houses a unique lightshow, outlining the history of Qantas and has catered for other events including Opera.


Some key statistics of the project were:

  • foundations are steel screw in piles
  • the building works were carried out around and directly over the existing Boeing 747 and 707 which added to complexity
  • the Airpark Roof covers an area of 8072m2, half as big as the Sydney Cricket Ground
  • approximately 400 tonnes of Australian Fabricated and supplied steel were adopted including UB and WB Sections for the roof beams and CHS for the roof trusses and columns
  • the roof is supported on 12 x 508CHS columns
  • the Airpark Roof is approximately 26m high and an average of approximately 90m x 90m wide
  • the roof is clad on the soffit of the steelwork with 13km of 700 wide Aluminium Extruded Aramax Sheets, the maximum truss span of the roof is 78m with the average truss depth being approximately 7.5m, and
  • the roof is made of two sections which are angled to provide maximum height to the structure while keeping beneath the Longreach Airport’s Obstacle Limitation Surface, an imaginary line through which structures located close to airports cannot penetrate.


Our journey with this project was marked by extensive collaboration with the architect, NRA-Co-Lab, and construction partner BESIX Watpac. Together, we navigated through numerous geometric and methodological changes to ensure the seamless integration of design and construction, resulting in a structure that stands as a testament to our collective vision and expertise. The team also faced extreme conditions of the outback summer including heat, insects and strong winds making installation challenging, there was a lot that we overcame.


The unique project was a huge success, and rewarding too, it won the ASI Steel Excellence Award for Large Buildings in 2020. The canopy stands as a soaring tribute to Qantas’ impact on the world of commercial aviation.

Principal | Structural Division Manager
Josh Neil

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