News

Airfield improvements completed ahead of winter evening flights

By Nina Jensen

Queenstown Airport will be ready to receive after-dark flights from the end of April following the completion of a runway and airfield lighting upgrade.

The enhancements to the runway and airfield lighting were key conditions set by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in 2014 to approve the safety case for evening flights Airport’s evening flights.

The $18 million runway works, completed over the past six months, have widened the runway from 30m to 45m and resurfaced it with a 110mm asphalt overlay (see attached for photos).

The installation of the $1.65 million airfield lighting package, which includes new runway, taxiway, and apron and approach lights, has been managed by air navigation service provider Airways New Zealand.  The new lights are now in place and the system is currently being fully tested prior to commissioning.

The $18 million runway works, completed over the past six months, have widened the runway from 30m to 45m and resurfaced it with a 110mm asphalt overlay.

The installation of the $1.65 million airfield lighting package, which includes new runway, taxiway, and apron and approach lights, has been managed by air navigation service provider Airways New Zealand.

The lighting installation and upgrade to the supporting system in the air traffic control tower will be completed this week, then the new system will be fully tested prior to commissioning.

The runway enhancements and airfield lighting upgrades were key conditions set by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for approving the Airport’s evening flights safety case in 2014.

Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) Acting CEO Mark Edghill is delighted with the result and congratulated everyone involved on “a fantastic job” in delivering the upgrade on time and on budget.

“This is a major milestone for us – the infrastructure upgrades have long term strategic and operational benefits so it was important to get them right.  We now have a more resilient airfield to serve the Queenstown Lakes region in all weathers and the improvements are a critical enabler for after-dark flights in and out of Queenstown,” he said.

“Over the past six months we have been co-ordinating two night-time projects to run almost in parallel and ensure that the airfield is safely ready for operations every morning, so it’s a real testament to the collaboration of number of organisations working well together and the commitment of everyone involved.

“A huge thanks to our contractors Downer and Beca and to the QAC and Airways teams for their professionalism, hard work and dedication in executing the project.”

Mr Edghill also thanked the airport’s neighbouring residents and wider community for their support over the past six months.

“We really appreciate their patience and understanding. The team was very aware of the impact of overnight works could have on our neighbours and did their utmost to mitigate any issues but operating heavy machinery at night is always a challenge.”

Next steps

  • A robust calibration and testing programme of the runway, taxiway, apron and approach lights has now begun ahead of the airlines commencing their evening flight schedules.  This involves:
  • A visual inspection of the lights by Airways engineers and technicians on the ground
  • Inspection of the lights from the air, via light aircraft during the day
  • Inspection of the lights via helicopter in the evening – planned for Wednesday 27 April. This is when the new lighting system will be turned on after dark for the first time.
  • During the evening flight inspection via helicopter, the lights will be turned on and off as needed. This might look a bit unusual – the helicopter will be flying at varying altitudes, +flying aircraft approach and departure paths repeatedly as Airways flight inspectors on board check the lights.  There’s no cause for concern though, all manoeuvres will be being closely monitored and managed by air traffic control.
  • CAA will be onsite during the flight inspections and ground checks of the lights.
  • CAA will give approval for commissioning of the lights subject to proving flights, to be carried out by the airlines between 30 April and 15 May, and final approval by Queenstown Airport.

Fast facts

  • Total project cost (runway and lighting) $19.65 million
  • Enhanced runway – now  45m wide and 1,891m long
  • 9,000m3 of cement stabilised aggregate or gravel used to widen both sides of the runway
  • 10,000m3 of asphalt equalling 25,000 tonnes produced to cover the full length and width of the runway to an average depth of 110mm.
  • The widened area of the runway covers 30,000m2
  • 25km of wire installed for the upgraded lighting
  • 5km of new underground ducting installed to carry the additional runway lighting.
  • 45 people working each night on up to 25 items of plant at any one time on the airfield
  • 100 nights of work and 90 days of work, representing a cumulative total of 40,000 person hours for the contract.  Apart from technical specialists, all people who worked on the project were local.

Source: Queenstown Airport Corporation

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