Thursday 18 October 2012
The essential maintenance and improvements at Guernsey Airport have reached another important milestone with the completion of work to infill an historic dip in the runway.
The dip had been a feature of the runway since it was constructed more than 50 years ago, and was deep enough that an aircraft at the lowest point was often not visible to a pilot starting to take off from the east. This did not comply with international safety requirements, and was therefore the first area tackled when the runway resurfacing and reprofiling began in July.
More than 45,000 tonnes of asphalt have been used to raise the original levels by up to 1½ metres. This involved laying a new section each night, around 100 metres long, to gradually build up the runway. At the same time the ground level either side has been adjusted to match the new contours.
Guernsey Airport's project manager Gerry Prickett said it was a particularly important milestone.
"The Airport 2040 project involves various different elements, many of which are major works in their own right. They all add to the overall complexity and extent of the works," he said.
"Infilling the dip was always going to be one of the most significant elements in terms of scale, and cost. However it was also an aspect of the runway that from a safety point of view was most urgently in need of addressing.
"To have reached this particular milestone is therefore not only a good sign of the progress we have made with the project, it is also a major improvement."
Lagan has now begun rehabilitating the rest of the runway, moving east from its current point.
It is the first time resurfacing has been carried out since 1974. Over the next 12 months the thin surface layer will be removed along the entire length of the runway, and new asphalt laid to provide additional strength and an improved profile for drainage.
The rest of this resurfacing will not involve working in any one area for as long as the operation took to infill the dip.
Each night temporary asphalt 'ramps' are created to form a smooth link between the new section and the rest of the runway, so the airport can remain operational during the day.
Mr Prickett said the noisiest element is when these ramps and the old asphalt are mechanically removed to enable the next new section to the laid. This is the first operation each evening, and so far very few neighbours had reported disturbance.
"The mechanical planing operation can take a couple of hours, but any noise should be relatively local to the area of the runway they are working on," he said.
"Filling the dip involved Lagan's men working in the same area for several weeks, and also coincided with the time of year neighbours were most likely to leave windows open at night. I am pleased to say we had remarkably few complaints, and where neighbours have contacted us we have done what we can to address any issues.
"For instance the mechanical sweepers that operate during the night to keep the runway and taxiways free from debris were identified as a particular source of noise. Lagan has now fitted additional silencers to these vehicles, which has made a significant improvement. That will be of benefit for the rest of the project."
Mr Prickett said if anyone is experiencing any disturbance as a result of the works they can call the 24-hour helpline and speak to a Lagan representative. The telephone number is 238222.