22 July 2011

Paraparaumu Developments - 50 years ago

While Air New Zealand Link prepare to start Q300 services to Paraparaumu in October, 50 years ago NAC was looking to develop Paraparaumu as a diversionary airport for Viscounts flying into the capital...

When Viscounts were first introduced airlines were not permitted to make allowance during landing for the anti-skid brakes fitted to this aircraft. This meant that, under normal New Zealand conditions, landing runs of 4,560 ft by day or 5,000 ft by night were required, both at all-up permissible weight of 58,500 lb. At Paraparaumu the main runway has a total of 4,850 ft, of which only 4,600 ft is effective. Whilst this would be marginal by day, it is impossible to use the field for night operations, consequently the only available, alternative field in the Wellington area was at Palmerston North. After several years' use of anti-skid brakes, which proved their reliability, the required landing run was reduced in January, 1961, to 4,200 ft. The Corporation then focused its attention on Paraparaumu as a possible diversionary airfield and application was made .to CAA for permission to use Paraparaumu for Viscounts as an alternative for Wellington. Investigations are being carried out to learn whether the varying strength of the runway is sufficient to cater for Viscounts. The Corporation is hopeful that the airfield will be cleared for operations. To eliminate the possibility of stones being drawn into the engines, if is expected that some work will be done on the runway and taxi-ways at a cost yet to be ascertained. Certain work will also have to be carried out on other facilities to cope with additional passengers processed through the airport. Based on a complete year of operations through Wellington, only 0.5% of scheduled Viscount flights were diverted to Palmerston North. This figure represents less than 100 diversions a year. The Borgeson report on the development of Wellington Airport drew attention to the fact that eventually Paraparaumu must be developed as an alternative to Wellington. It described the two airports as "complementary". However, the international use of Wellington Airport has influenced the policy on Paraparaumu to a large degree in that the present Paraparaumu field, while possibly suitable for all internal operations, cannot be developed to international standards. Therefore tentative plans have been drawn to consider a new international airport north of the present Paraparaumu strip. From the Corporation's point of view, we are primarily interested in a diversionary airfield for Viscounts and there are many problems of finance and control which may not be resolved for some years. In addition, and again from an internal operator's viewpoint, it is felt that, if any large sum is to be spent by the Government on airfield development within the next five years, then this same should be devoted to providing sealed fields at those places where the Corporation plans to operate Friendships. This would allow the complete withdrawal of DC-3 services.

Source : NAC Skylines, June 1961

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