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Runway length adjustment still up in the air

Runway length adjustment still up in the air

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Runway length adjustment still up in the air


A "quick win" investigation into repurposing some of Guernsey Airport's runway safety area as extra length has been delayed and has "not proceeded at the pace" its architect hoped it would.

Former pilot and Deputy Jan Kuttelwascher led a successful requete, approved by the States in October, which triggered a review into reducing Guernsey airport's safety areas to 90m at either end of the runway.

If the investigation concludes it is safe to do so, the length of the runway could be increased by 100m to 1,570m overall, allowing larger aircraft to land in Guernsey in what Deputy Kuttelwascher described at the time as an "interim solution with some immediate benefits". 

However, almost four months on, General Manager of Ports Colin Le Ray confirmed that a detailed safety study had yet to arrive on the Director of Civil Aviation's desk.

“Following approval of Deputy Kuttelwascher’s requete, Guernsey Airport issued a detailed scoping document to a UK aviation consultancy late last year. A detailed proposal was received and assessed by Guernsey Airport in January and the work has now been commissioned.

“The output, in accordance with the resolution of the States of Deliberation, will provide a detailed runway end safety area assessment, which can then be passed to the Director of Civil Aviation for an initial view as to its likely acceptability.

“An update on timings for completion of the work is planned to be provided at the February States meeting.”

Guernsey airport

Pictured: Guernsey Airport. 

Deputy Kuttelwascher, a member of the States' Trading Supervisory Board, said it was a "shame" that things had not progressed as quickly as he'd hoped.

"It [the investigation] was meant to come back with a response by the end of March, but I’ve been told that it is not expected until the end of May," he said. 

"It is still up in the air and I don’t expect the STSB President Peter Ferbrache will be able to present it to the States next month."

On the reasons for the delay, Deputy Kuttelwascher said: "There was a six-week period of time [after the requete was approved] before a scoping document was submitted for tender. When the preferred tender came back, they had missed out a bit and it was thrown back at them.'

"It is unfortunate that it is not proceeding at a pace, it is a shame but it is always the case. If we had a surplus of staff the scoping document could have been done in 24 to 48 hours, but there is always more work on the table than there are people to do it." 

The investigation was seen as an interim solution, with the long-awaited PwC report into Guernsey's air and sea links yet to be published. That review is expected to provide  commentary on whether the runway should be extended or not.

What are runway safety areas? 

The safety areas are strips of land at each end of the runway, that are clear of obstacles. They serve as a final resort in the case of an aircraft overshooting a landing, and running off of the tarmac. 

Pictured top: Deputy Jan Kuttelwascher and Guernsey Airport runway. 

 

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