Refurbishment of runways in operational airports will always be a challenge for their operators. The operational constraints and the level of refurbishment needed must be effectively coordinated. Refurbishment works must take place at night, and within the 5–6 hours that the runway is closed. At the same time the work must be of a high enough quality to last over an 8-12 year period.
The effective planning of such work is particularly important when it involves the management of several different stakeholders. Some airports need to be completely closed during the 5-6 hour working period, and this may result in the rescheduling of flights. This impacts the logistical planning of airlines.
In Dublin International Airport, Newcastle International Airport and Copenhagen International Airport these issues were dealt with through a careful planning process. Innovative paving materials were selected for the refurbishments, and it was made sure that operational requirements were met at the end of each work period. This meant the projects could finish on time without too much disruption to air-traffic. At Newcastle Airport (which only has one runway) the planning procedure was drawn up more than a year prior to the start of the works themselves. At Dublin and Copenhagen (more than one runway), the planning was begun half a year prior to starting work.
Dublin, Newcastle and Copenhagen airports began the runway refurbishment project based on initial studies carried out by Ramboll. The paving-quality was measured, and this identified the need for refurbishment. The results showed that the bearing capacity was sufficient whereas the surface condition was at the end of its service life. Based on this it was decided that innovative procedures developed by Ramboll could be put into place. A new, thin surface of asphalt meant that operational safety requirement of the surface was achieved without investing more money than necessary. Using this approach saved the air-ports money without compromising safety.
This innovative technology, known as ‘Thin Porous Friction Course’, was developed by Ramboll together with Copenhagen Airports. It was used at Dublin and Copenhagen, and while a more traditional surface was used at Newcastle the procedures for planning well in advance was found to be very effective.
The projects had several stages, comprising of:
• Feasibility Study
• Detailed Design
• Tender Documents
• Construction Management
On all runway refurbishment projects the associated AGL was replaced within the allocated working periods.
The outcomes of the projects were runway surfaces and AGL that comply with all requirements. The construction works were also conducted with minimum disruption to airport operations. Therefore the loss of revenue was limited for the airport operators.
Innovation and experience
The runway refurbishment projects were assigned to Ramboll due to our long partnership with the airports where our innovative approach for managing surfaces has proven successful. Our approach is based on a concept similar to that of our Pavement Management System for airfields – Airpave. The unique concept comprises of analysis of different parameters relevant for the design of runway surfaces.