Berlin's airport operator expects to encounter further obstacles as it works to complete the troubled Brandenburg hub, after construction work had to be suspended due to excessive loads in the main terminal's roof structure.

"I am sure we will in future come across other processes from the past which appear inconceivable at first," says FBB's chief executive Karsten Muhlenfeld. "But we need to bring the mistakes from the past to the daylight in order to realise the airport's opening."

On 21 September, a local building authority ordered an immediate stop to work in all areas directly covered by the main terminal's roof, as five of 15 smoke extraction fans installed in the roof structure turned out to be much heavier than previously accounted for. FBB had blocked off the affected areas on 18 June.

Construction engineers assumed in their original roof-load calculations that all fans would be identical, says FBB. But while 10 fans weigh 2.3t (5,070lb) each, more powerful fans weighing around 4t were fitted in the remaining positions.

The discrepancy was discovered during preparations for installation of chimneys for the smoke extraction system, prompting the operator to recalculate the roof structure's requirements.

FBB says the five fans in question do not exceed load limitations of the roof structure itself. But it acknowledges that the steel platforms – on which the fans have been installed, and which are suspended from the roof – are "under-dimensioned from today's point of view".

The airport operator categorises the mishap as an "inherited" issue because the fans were installed prior to 2012, when the gateway's planned opening was called off just weeks before the target in June of that year, largely as a result of the terminal's flawed fire protection and smoke extraction systems.

State prosecutors in the city of Cottbus are determining how the heavier fans were installed, with FBB saying it "fully" supports that investigation.

The airport operator has dismissed a "long-serving" manager, who was responsible for the central terminal building, and replaced him with Frank Robbelen, who previously oversaw planning and contract management.

Muhlenfeld says Robbelen will manage "such complex areas better and more transparently" in future.

"There is no question we are at present in a difficult project phase," says Muhlenfeld. He adds management will "continue the chosen path without compromise" and put Brandenburg airport on a "reliable basis" in terms of building regulations.

Local media have reported that Dietmar Woidke, governor of Brandenburg state an FBB shareholder alongside the city of Berlin and the federal government – still expects the hub to open in 2017 as planned.

In August, Muhlenfeld disclosed that FBB would not meet its target of completing all construction work by March 2016.

Source: Cirium Dashboard