Run(a)way construction

Run(a)way construction

A pun, yes, but perhaps this header is a bit misleading. You see, under the guidance of Trevor Broodryk, aviation safety officer for construction at Lanseria International Airport, the construction of the facility’s new R150-million runway is anything but “runaway”. In fact, it’s one of the most thoroughly planned and managed construction projects in South Africa’s aviation industry history.

Specifically chosen for the task, Broodryk joined Lanseria 18 months ago, when the new runway was still a concept. He brought with him 23 years of service in the South African Air Force as an air traffic controller (and later staff officer) as well as several years as a senior controller in International Operations with the National Airways Corporation. “As an air traffic controller, aviation safety is always part of our lives,” he says.

And what safety this project necessitated, as this new runway is being constructed in close proximity to the existing, operational runway. “My first task was to set up a safety case for the construction of the runway from an aviation side, as well as the runway construction methodology,” reveals Broodryk. “We are proud that it is the first safety case that the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has officially approved. So we’re working within its guidelines.”

Scheduled to open in mid-September 2013, construction of the 3 000 metre long, 300 metre overrun and 45 metre wide (15 m wider than the existing runway) runway started six months ago. Broodryk explains that the new runway’s specifications require a 75 metre clearance on either side to be compliant with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and SACAA specifications. Upon completion, the current runway will be lifted and removed.

Having the two runways side by side calls for a juggling act, that Broodryk and his team are taking very seriously. “Workers are allowed on site only once they’ve been through a special induction course,” he says.

A frangible fence, with anchor poles that collapse away from the runway, should something hit into it, has been erected 23 metres from the edge of the runway. “The CAA was very strict on that,” explains Broodryk. “The entire area from the construction site office to the construction area is fenced in completely. Barriers and movements are monitored all the time.” Essential, when there are 106 construction workers, 16 earthmoving vehicles and 36 trucks working next to an active runway.

But the safety was not the only concern. “We conducted an environmental impact study, and monthly audits ensure that the guidelines are followed,” notes Broodryk. “An inspector goes out daily to speak to the safety officers and take photos. We had to stop and review our plans to relocate the ring road because the protected African Potato Plant was found and first had to be re-established elsewhere.”

It’s clear Broodryk is letting nothing in this important construction project run away from him.

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