Airport and Aviation Services Limited embarked on a colossal task of resurfacing of the runway of the Bandaranaike International Airport, Sri Lanka’s key international Airport, which served its service life.
(Marketing Manager, Airport and Aviation Services)
The most conducive dry weather patterns for the resurfacing works were considered based on the review of historical weather data at BIA maintained by the Department of Meteorology. The contract for the ‘Overlaying Works’ was awarded on 1 September 2016 to the Joint Venture of China National Aero Technology International Group (CATIC) and Shanghai New Era Airport Design.
Both these organizations were credited under the Civil Aviation Authority of China. The contract was to overlay the runway and construction of associated works on a ‘design and build’ basis. The cost of the entire project estimated was US$ 50 million. Under the major developments of the runway project the extent of work involved as follows:
• Runway of BIA is upgraded to modified Code ‘F’ compliance
•Aerodrome Ground Lighting of the Runway and Taxiway system of BIA upgraded to CAT II as per ICAO
•All of the new installation will be energy efficiency LED Light system
•Surface movement guidance system to the Runway and taxiway systems
•New airfield light control and monitoring system
•All Runway markings as per ACI new addition
•Capacity of Runway system will be enhanced to meet next 20 year growth
Further, the runway width has been expanded by 15 metres, (7.5 metres on either side) enabling A380 aircraft to land successfully.
Netherlands Airport Consultants (NACO), the design and supervision consultant was the design and supervision consultant of the runway when it was constructed and commissioned under Phase 1 Development Project of Colombo International Airport in 1986.
Minimizing passenger inconvenience
The runway was closed for operations from 8:30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. considering comparatively low traffic volumes during the said period, as well as to minimize passenger inconvenience. Well proactive planning by the Design & Planning Division in close coordination with Air Traffic Control Division, Airport Management Division, Electrical Engineering Division and other relevant divisions of Airport Aviation Services Ltd, Civil Aviation Authority, SriLankan Airlines, AOC, Government Agencies etc. led to create a detailed spontaneous commercially feasible operation during the period of construction.
Construction of the overlay works commenced on schedule on 6 January 2017. The daunting task of operations during this period was managed while ensuring correct level of security and safety within the airport premises with the least hassle to the passengers, airlines and cargo operations. Seeing the national requirement, a remarkable service was comprehended by all stakeholders involved. Customs, Immigration, SriLankan Airlines, AOC, Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Police Katunayake/BIA, State Intelligence Service (SIS) , Criminal Investigation Department (CID), and Foreign Employment Bureau. The exemplified combine collaboration of the above agencies made it clear, that the aviation industry of Sri Lanka had no barriers in accomplishing great feats. The collective work synergy is the result of the main runway being ready for a 24-hour operation even before the estimated date of 5 April 2017.
It is important to note an updated rescheduled staff roster duties facilitated all 16 immigration departure counters to be operational during the construction period whilst two Fast Track Immigration counters created passengers check-in within one hour from the departure.
During the period of runway closure, both inbound and outbound aircraft traffic movements were accommodated by Sri Lanka’s two other international airports. Thereby Mattala Rajapaksha International Airport (MRIA) and Colombo Airport, Ratmalana (RMA) were fully geared in facilitating connectivity of airlines during this period. All business jet aircraft movements during the closure were handled by Colombo Airport, Ratmalana.
As the sole ground handler SriLankan Airlines played a dedicated role on all ground handling operations by deploying their skilled ground handlers. Specialized equipment were utilized in all three international airports for this purpose.
The services of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation were also crucial in facilitating quick turn-around time in keeping with the scheduled departures. Work efficiency by their part led to crucial ground services being fulfilled on time.
The procedure for safety evaluation for closing and re-opening of the runway was carried out by the contractor. This procedure was also evaluated by the consultants and AASL safety team and submitted to DGCA for the approval. The Civil Aviation Authority closely monitored approval procedures are being followed upon and whether resurfacing standards are being met. All the procedures implemented during the period of the construction are going to be the same in order to enhance the efficiency of the airport operations and this is one of the most successful projects in the region of this nature.
To ensure efficient security clearance process , Sri Lanka Air Force was well-organized by assigning adequate personnel for baggage screening in all screening points and by providing additional scanners to ensure that aircraft and passengers are fully screened with no breach of security.
Police Station Katunayake /BIA has done a very premeditated plan for handling all arriving and departing vehicles in order to avoid congestion at the entrance to the airport and long lanes of vehicles along the approach. All these were a success since the traffic plan was introduced within the airport premises and was tested two weeks prior to the Runway closure.
Both MRIA and RMA were very well utilized during the runway closure period to handle flights within their current capacities.
Colombo Airport, Ratmalana has been attracted by many smaller aircraft during this period and made arrangements for smooth passenger operations. In addition to that facilities provided at the airport also attracted more commercial flights.
Role played by MRIA
Availability of Mattala International Airport (MRIA) round the clock for operations ensured airlines to easily divert their flights to MRIA as a destination and terminating point. MRIA was fully equipped to accommodate any airline that wished to operate there for connectivity and for technical stopovers during this period.
When the number of passenger movements at the BIA is concerned, it has been noticed that the difference of the reduction of passengers handled has been only 5.25% during the period of January to February in 2016 and 2017. Further, when the aircraft movements are concerned it has been noticed that the difference of the reduction of aircraft handled in the same period this year and last year has been around 16.7%. Therefore, when considering the importance of this runway resurfacing and its expected future economic benefits for the country, this has not made a considerable negative impact to the country’s economy.
It has been noticed that the passengers sacrificed their precious time and had offered their fullest cooperation for the AASL to carry out all the processing activities most efficiently bearing all the temporary discomfort for the national priority. The management of AASL is pleased to observe the enthusiasm of their staff and staff of other entities mentioned above during the special operational period without any hesitation.
Chairman of Airport Aviation Sri Lanka Limited Eng. Saman Ediriweera, Vice Chairman Ranjith De Silva, Executive Director Johanne Jayarathne and all the heads of the divisions were able to undertake this successful project under the guidelines and blessings of the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva and the Deputy Minister Ashok Abeysinghe.
By Sumith de Silva | ceylontoday.lk