*File photo
*File photo
21 April 2010

The Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, the Hon. Shawn Crockwell J.P., M.P., announced today the 7-month completion of the first phase of the Airport Runway project at a cost of $4.9 million.

“Airport Operations has completed the first phase of this major capital project both on time and on budget.  The result is a first class airfield infrastructure that meets advanced safety requirements,” said Mr. Crockwell.

Following the introduction of new regulations by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2009, physical objects including roof tops, hills and trees along a portion of Ferry Reach that fell within the final approach path to Runway 12, were classified as obstacles that needed to be addressed within a multi-year timeframe.

“Demolishing homes and removing hilltops on arable land was clearly not a viable option, so we looked at increasing the descent angle of approaching aircraft thus elevating them slightly higher as they fly in over Ferry Reach.   This essentially takes those physical objects outside of the approach cone and they're no longer considered safety obstacles,” said Airport General Manager, Aaron Adderley.

By increasing the descent angle, planes will now touch down further along the runway meaning that all of the lighting systems and runway markings that guided approaching aircraft to the original touch down zone had to be relocated and the threshold displaced and repositioned 587 feet further down the runway.

The project also called for the installation of enhanced taxiway and runway signage; and high intensity, LED runway centerline lighting.  According to Mr. Adderley, use of LED lighting satisfies two of the Airport’s business objectives.  

“It helps realize energy savings and perhaps most significantly, gain a higher regulatory certification with an increased safety factor,” he said.  

According to international weather minima criteria set by aviation regulators, ICAO and the FAA, the L.F. Wade International Airport is now equipped with the necessary lighting and navigational aid equipment to qualify as having a Category 1 Approach for the first time ever.

“Prior to the completion of the upgrades, our navigational aids and minimal lighting capability dictated that an arriving aircraft would have to circle until visibility on the approach improved to at least 1,200 metres.  If conditions failed to improve, the aircraft would have to divert to an alternate airport along the East Coast resulting in flight cancellations,” said Mr. Adderley.

“With the new runway centerline lighting, aircraft can now safely land at our airport with a minimum visibility of 800 metres, the type of conditions one could expect during a heavy thunderstorm for example, and not have to divert,” said Mr. Adderley.  

Once phase one was completed, the Airport was required to carry out a flight inspection to certify the new approach.  Bermudian carrier, Longtail Aviation, was commissioned to conduct the work, marking the first time local resources were used for such a task.

“Longtail Aviation is honored and pleased to have been asked to assist with this project,” said Martin Amick, Longtail’s CEO and Head of Flight Operations.  “Mr. Adderley and his team did an excellent job managing a very complex undertaking.  The result is a safer, more modern, more energy efficient airport.  We are proud to call this airport our home base.”  

Mr. Adderley added that while flight arrivals into L.F. Wade International are affected by low visibility conditions only a few times a year and the Category 1 status would resolve most of these occurrences, the new certification is a prerequisite for the recently announced airspace initiative that the Airport is pursuing.

Phase two of the project which calls for improvements to the Approach Lighting Barrettes at the Clearwater end of the runway, will commence in the middle of next year.