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Regulator rules out longer runway inside boundaries

News | Published:

WHAT was probably the last hope of extending the runway has been rejected by the Channel Islands director of civil aviation.

(Picture by Adrian Miller, 25492373)

Dominic Lazarus’s comments follow a review of the idea of extending the runway within the airport boundaries.

A policy letter due to go before the States from the States’ Trading Supervisory Board will give members the opportunity to accept that no further work is done on this project.

If that happens, it should sound an end to all debate about the future of the runway this political term, given a States decision earlier this year to reject spending £700,000 on preparing a business case looking at an extension of between 1,700m and 1,800m.

Consultants Jacobs were taken on by the STSB in February, following a successful requete last year which called for an investigation into increasing the runway length from 1,463 metres to 1,570m for take-off and landing in one direction and landing in the other.

The consultant’s role was to assess the risk of reducing the eastern Runway End Safety Area – Resa – and looked at whether or not a 90m ‘undershoot’ was acceptable on one runway and a 90m ‘overrun’ on the other.

Jacobs also looked at any safety measures, including Engineered Material Arresting Systems – Emas – that might be needed.

The report came up with three options, the first of which was to reduce the Resa to 90m, which would increase the overall length of the runway to 1,571m. But this was the least preferred for safety reasons.

Option two involved creating a 120m Emas bed Resa, which offered the best risk assessment in safety terms.

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But the overall effect of this would lead to a total usable runway length of 1,541m rather than the 1,570 desired: ‘As such this marginal increase in runway length was unlikely to satisfy the rationale for the extension,’ said the STSB in its report.

The third option was a hybrid scheme and would be dependent on the States relating its position on advice given by the industry and would potentially make it possible to consider the scope of a less than full-length Emas.

This would involve choosing to rely on safety standards set by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, against which Guernsey Airport is already audited.

It would provide a similar effect to option one, a usable length of 1,571m, but the risk profile was only marginally better than that option.

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Director of civil aviation Dominic Lazarus. (Picture by Tony Pike, 25492899)

Following the Jacobs review, Mr Lazarus wrote to the general manager ports in his role as regulator. Having consulted industry experts, he concluded that there was no case to allow this project.

‘The Guernsey Airport runway has a Code 3 designation and therefore should be meeting a 240m Resa (recommended practice), a 90m Resa is a minimum requirement,’ he wrote.

‘The development proposal does not offer any safety gain whatsoever.

‘It concentrates purely on commercial objectives to operate with higher payloads/larger aircraft within the existing airport boundaries.

‘As the regulator, I should not be sanctioning any erosion in available safety margins for purely commercial reasons.’

Comment Page 19

Mark Ogier

By Mark Ogier
News reporter

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