Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Thermal blankets to help bed in newly poured runway surface

The first concrete has been poured as part of Auckland Airport’s runway maintenance project, with workers this morning laying down the cement mix for the first of 280 giant concrete slabs.

General manager of airport development and delivery André Lovatt says the first pour had gone smoothly and the $26 million project was on track for completion in August.

“Today is a huge milestone for the project and the team is making great progress. Since we started the work on May 24, we’ve removed 4688m3 of concrete from the touchdown zone – that’s a vast amount, almost enough to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools.

“Our runway is at the heart of all our operations at Auckland Airport, and while the downturn in flights that came with COVID-19 has hit us really hard, it’s also created an opportunity for us to bring forward these scheduled runway maintenance works.”

With the project taking place in the wetter, colder months, Auckland Airport is using specially designed thermal blankets to help the concrete cure properly. The blankets will be placed upon the 6m2 concrete slabs, helping the concrete, cure, or harden, in the cold weather.

“The safety and integrity of our runway comes first, and the project team is doing everything possible to ensure the surface meets the highest standards,” says André.

“The thermal blankets maintain a constant temperature through the concrete and make sure the outer face isn’t exposed to the cold air. Too much of a difference in temperature could result in the outer layer of concrete cooling quicker than the interior of the slab – that’s what we’re working to prevent.”

The runway has been shortened by 1.1km at the eastern end while the works are underway, with jet-blast fences in place to protect workers on site while planes take off and land. Aircraft continue to use the runway, and the works haven’t disrupted any passenger journeys.

The project has created work for 150 people, with 80 workers on site. Five large dump trucks carted the disused pieces of runway to a nearby storage area from where the concrete will be available for use in future projects around the airport.

Each new slab will be 500mm deep and constructed of heavy industrial-grade pavement, able to handle some of the heaviest and largest aircraft in the world, taking off at weights of up to 500 tonnes.

When the project is complete, 10,420m2 of new runway surface will be in place – an area greater than a rugby field.

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