Airfield upgrade on track ahead of winter evening flights

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Queenstown Airport has reached a key milestone in its six-month project to improve airfield infrastructure, with the widening of the main runway now complete and the runway resurfacing about to commence.

The $18 million project, due to be completed in April, includes widening the runway from 30m to 45m and installing a comprehensive airfield lighting package – both of which will enable the airport to accommodate after-dark flights for the first time this winter. 

The airfield improvements were key conditions set by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) when approving the airport’s evening flights safety case last year. 

Phase two of the project, which commences tonight (11 February), involves applying a 110mm asphalt overlay across the runway.  The construction team will start the runway resurfacing at the western (lake) end, 200m back from the airport’s road boundary, and each night will move eastwards away from neighbouring houses.  More than 50m of runway will be completed each night and at 5am it will be readied for normal operations. 

The runway overlay process will affect general aviation users (light fixed wing aircraft) of Queenstown Airport’s cross-wind runway.  From today, the cross-wind runway will be temporarily shortened by 270m for up to four weeks.  During this time, some smaller aircraft will use the main runway for take offs and landings so residents may see them coming in and out of the airport on a different flight path.

Airways New Zealand worked with Queenstown Airport and partner airlines to introduce the advanced navigation procedures making evening flights possible in Queenstown, and is now leading the installation of the airport’s new runway, taxiway, apron and approach lights.  New Precision Approach Path Indicator lights - commonly referred to as PAPI lights - have been successfully trialled and put into service, and work will now begin on upgrading the runway and taxiway lights.

“Our team will be proud to light up the widened runway when it opens,” says Airways' Head of Service Delivery Paul Fallow.  “With the new lighting and advanced flight procedures in place, airlines flying into Queenstown will be using one of the most sophisticated air navigation control systems in the world.”

Queenstown Airport General Manager of Operations Mike Clay is very pleased with how the airfield infrastructure works are progressing and says the project is on track to be finished on time and on budget. 

“Airways and our contractors Downer NZ and Beca are doing a great job each night and are working hard to minimise any disruption to residents,” Mr Clay says.  “We’re also keeping our neighbours informed via letters, weekly website updates and we also have a 24-hour hotline for any immediate concerns.

“When completed, these upgrades will give us a more robust, durable runway in all weather and enable us to host evening flights in and out of Queenstown for the first time this winter. The additional infrastructure and onboard technology required to fly in darkness will enhance the airport’s overall safety and efficiency of operations both day and night.”

For more information about evening flights visit www.queenstownairport.co.nz/eveningflights.