A group of runway extension campaigners have been encouraged by the approval of a new safety system by the Civil Aviation Authority, which is being considered as part of investigations into Guernsey’s Airport.
The Guernsey Aviation Action Group (GAAG) said the approval of EMAS – an arresting system used to stop aircraft overrunning runways – could have “major implications for Guernsey Airport safety enhancement”.
GAAG hopes that an extended runway, made possible through an EMAS at the east of the airport, would mean more airline competition, new routes, and cheaper fares in the local market.
It argues that the installation of an EMAS would slightly increase the usable length of the existing 1,583m runway, which could be delivered as ‘essential works’ under airport safety improvement.
Key to keeping costs down is that this work could be carried out within the existing airport boundaries, it added.
Pictured: Economic Development are expected to bring a policy letter on the future of the runway in just a few month's time.
The Group cites the 2019 Frontier Economics report, which suggested wide economic benefits to the island from extension to 1,700m. A further report has been produced since then which factors in the pandemic expected effects on air travel.
But GAAG also believes that these changes would be of benefit to States-owned Aurigny too.
“The EMAS installation, which will be completely within the current airport perimeter, will allow adjustments of the Guernsey runway length to enable Aurigny to fly a full passenger complement to further afield UK airports and continental destinations such as Barcelona and Majorca,” GAAG argued.
“This will be a major profits boost for Aurigny.”
Pictured: Aircraft preventing from overrunning runways thanks to EMAS.
An Engineered Materials Arresting System works for aircraft in a similar way to gravel traps which are used to bring runaway motor vehicles to a stop.
Crushed material, usually derived from cement, is placed in a bed at the end of a runway. As an aircraft passes through, it's tires sink into the ground causing deceleration.
The United States’ Federal Aviation Authority estimates that a standard system can completely stop a runway overrun when an aircraft is travelling up to 80 miles-per-hour.
Currently, 69 US airports have EMAS installations.
London City Airport announced late last year that it would seek to install EMAS at either end of its runway to improve safety and maximise the usable length for aircraft. The installation is slated to cost £6m.
Pictured: All eyes will be on the eastern end of Guernsey's runway if and when a business case to extend comes forward.
GAAG, which includes businessman Peter Bachmann and ex-deputy Joe Mooney, says that it has submitted its information to the Committee for Economic Development “in order to be incorporated into their long-awaited Policy Paper to be published in April”.
The States directed Economic Development to produce a business case on extending the runway to at least 1,700m in the previous political term.
In May 2022, Economic Development President Deputy Neil Inder said further work was being coordinated for the investigation, which included “the technical and regulatory feasibility of various options that would utilise an EMAS”.
However, there are rumblings that such a policy letter may not be published this political term, and support for an extension appears to be shrinking amongst senior States members, while others are historically strongly opposed.
States members were updated on the progress of the runway policy letter on Friday.