Queenstown Airport gets into the groove

Runway team lined up sml

Photo: Queenstown Airport runway – construction team photo April 2016

Following last year’s $18 million project to widen and resurface its main runway, Queenstown Airport will this month start work on the final stage of its airfield upgrade – a $750,000 project to apply grooves to the runway.

Queenstown Airport General Manager of Operations and Safety Mike Clay says the project is part of the company’s continuing investment to ensure that the airport can serve the region well in all weather conditions.

“Grooved runways are common around the world, particularly for large airports in the United States, Singapore and Australia where climate extremes require measures to increase surface friction,” says Mr Clay.

“For Queenstown Airport the grooves will be particularly helpful for aircraft landing in wet weather.”

Mike Clay landscape med

Photo: Mike Clay

Queenstown Airport will be the first airport in New Zealand to employ the ‘trapezoidal grooving’ technique which is now considered global best practice for grooving runways.

‘Grooving’ is a specialist skill where diagonal grooves are carved out across the runway surface enabling water to flow freely off the side.

The grooving process is expected to start in mid-March and will be completed at night over a six to eight-week period with no impact on flights or day-to-day operations of the airport. Work will be completed by 6am each morning in time for normal operations to resume.

The works will begin at the Frankton end of the runway and progressively move away from the residential area. The construction team will complete the project as quickly and efficiently as possible and excessive noise or vibration from the works is not expected.

The project will be led by Downer New Zealand, the construction team that completed the runway works. Cardinal International Grooving and Grinding, a world-leading team of runway and roading ‘groovers’ with specialised equipment and training, is being brought in from the United States to complete the grooving.

“Making the airport as safe and reliable as possible is of utmost importance to us and we’ve worked hard to ensure that our airfield meets the best international practices, codes and standards,” says Mr Clay.

“Last year, as part of our commitment to providing the airport infrastructure to enable after-dark flights, we widened the runway and overlaid it with a new surface. The new asphalt surface has now ‘cured’ and is ready for grooving.

“We also undertook due diligence process which included a visit to several international airports last year to review best practice. This was invaluable as I was able to observe grooved runways in action as well as different types of snow and ice treatments and techniques used to clear the runways.”

In the event that residents need to get in touch with the airport with any queries or concerns regarding the project, the airport’s office administrator is available on 03 450 9229 during office hours. Alternatively, the after-hours hotline number during the project is 027 226 3057.

About Cardinal International Grooving and Grinding
Cardinal is a recognised leader in airport grooving quality and production. The company has been responsible for runway grooving at most of the world’s major international airports, including O’Hare International in Chicago, JFK in New York, Miami, Salt Lake City, Colorado Springs and many more. The team responsible for the grooving of Queenstown Airport’s runway is arriving from Singapore where they have just completed the trapezoidal grooving of one of Changi Airport’s runways.

About trapezoidal grooving
Trapezoidal grooving is now global best practice for grooving runways in terms of resistance to rubber contamination, integrity under heavy loads, resistance to chipping and closing, and water dissipation.