#WATCH Shannon runway resurfacing is a massive test of logistics

1524
Work under way on the resurfacing of the main runway at Shannon Airport.
Work under way on the resurfacing of the main runway at Shannon Airport.
Work under way on the resurfacing of the main runway at Shannon Airport.
Work under way on the resurfacing of the main runway at Shannon Airport.

THE resurfacing of the main runway at Shannon Airport is proving a triumph of logistics as the equivalent of one football pitch is re-laid between dusk and dawn each night.

Shortly before midnight, a team of 90 vehicles and 70 people start a four hour shift on the 3,200 metre runway which is one of the longest Europe and a designated emergency runway for the Space Shuttle.

By the time they finish and get ready for a ninety minute health and safety inspection before early morning flights resume, the team will have laid enough asphalt to cover an entire football pitch.

The work, which is expected to last for 25 years, started in April and by the time it finishes in October, 50,000 tonnes of asphalt will be laid – equating to 72 football pitches.

Built in 1961, the runway was last fully resurfaced in 1983 and has undergone regular maintenance over the intervening years. The current work includes resurface and rehabilitation enhancements, including replacement of existing runway lighting and fittings, raising of the drainage channel, reinstatement of the airfield markings associated ducting and other minor site works.

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Airport Operations Director Niall Maloney said it was quite a complex job not only because there a huge volume of work being done but there’s a huge focus on the clock and, particularly, on safety.

“The runway must be open and operational every morning for our first transatlantic flight before 6am. To ensure this happens our own project team, working with our contractor, take 90 minutes to run all the necessary safety checks.

“It’s a well-rehearsed activity by our contractor, Lagan Asphalt. A chain of vehicles arrive on site as soon as the last flight is processed. Planers, tarmacadam trucks, empty lorries, rollers, up to 70 vehicles in all, roll onto the runway for the works every night. By the time we are finished in October, we will have a brand new surface that will serve the airport for the next 25 years.”

Airport Managing Director Andrew Murphy told the Limerick Post that the project is part of a €20 million programme that is focussed on works at the terminal building and the runway. It includes investment at gates one to five, the duty free shop, new executive lounges and the recently opened sensory room.

“Some of the investment is in essential infrastructure assets like the runway, some in making the airport more aesthetic and pleasurable for our customers. It’s about making sure Shannon is a modern, comfortable airport capable of serving the needs of all our customers,” he said

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