Guernsey’s £80m Airport 2040 upgrade has been completed two months ahead of schedule with a little help from the heat wave enjoyed by the British Isles this summer.
Originally planned to take 22 months and finish by the end of 2013, the works were completed in October.
Design and engineering specialist TPS, part of the Carillion group, project managed the rehabilitation and improvement of runway, taxiways and aircraft aprons at the airport. This necessitated the import of 220,000 tonnes of granite and limestone aggregates from the UK to the island, supplementing 100,000 tonnes of locally quarried stone. Under the watchful eye of TPS’ client project manager Gerry Prickett, this essential maintenance and improvement work included the removal of an historic dip in the runway, the construction of an additional 120 metre runway section and the complete reconstruction of Guernsey Airport’s apron area.
Work began in earnest in March 2012, and shortly after the airport closed for two days to enable the reconstruction of large sections of the runway’s outer edges. The main asphalt operation started in July of that year, with the infill of the dip at the western end of the site. This had been a feature of the runway since it was first constructed more than 50 years ago, but it no longer met modern safety standards. The operation involved contractors working at night to build up the levels in the section with successive layers of asphalt. Over ten weeks, more than 45,000 tonnes of asphalt was used to raise the height of the runway by up to 1.6 metres.
Since then, similar works were carried out elsewhere on the runway to improve its strength and previously undulating profile. Once complete, this enabled contractor Lagan to lay the final top course. This was undertaken after the airport closed each night, and involved laying new asphalt and then cutting grooves in the surface to enable water to quickly drain off. Having started at the western end, the work moved eastwards along the full length of the runway.
“The new section of runway added at the western end of the site moves the airstrip 120 metres to the west, while the existing taxiway also had to be extended to link the western end with the rest of the airfield,” revealed Gerry Prickett.
“The new runway maintains its existing operational length of 1,463 metres but this shift provides longer safety areas at both ends of the runway.”
The other key part of the project saw the apron – the aircraft hardstanding beside the terminal where passengers and crew board and disembark the aircraft – undergo a full rebuild.
“Although Guernsey Airport’s new terminal was built in 2004, the old apron dating back to the 1960s was retained and bore the wear and tear from 50 years of trafficking,” explained Gerry. The apron works saw all the old concrete crushed and re-used for the foundations of the renewed area.
To maintain normal airport operations the work was carried out in six phases, with two of these phases providing additional aircraft stands on what were grass areas. The final major phase this summer involved the bussing of passengers to and from these areas whilst a large part of the existing concrete was re-built to higher strength. As the majority of this construction took place during the day, it was clearly visible to passengers using the terminal.
In addition TPS carried out work on the airport’s new drainage system, the installation of new navigational aids, a complete replacement of the airfield ground lighting and the installation of head of stand services. TPS were the design engineers for the latter, having designed the fixed electrical ground power systems for aircraft to connect to when on the apron, and the stand number indicator systems that identify the aircraft parking positions.
While the weather has helped the contractors this summer, it hasn’t always been on their side. The work was significantly hampered by the wettest twelve months on record in 2012, followed in March 2013 by Guernsey’s heaviest snowfall in 30 years and the overall affect was to put the project about eight weeks behind programme. However, the dry weather and glorious sunshine that followed meant almost no lost shifts and much improved ground conditions for drainage and apron re-construction works.
For more information: www.tpsconsult.co.uk.