07 March 2024

Questions over Runway Suitability


A $17 million upgrade of Masterton airport’s runway may not be enough to get an airline running regular flights in and out of Wairarapa. The Masterton District Council started work on improving its runway yesterday but it would need a favourable safety assessment before an interested operator could fly its 34-seat aircraft from the improved strip. Air Chathams is keen to investigate establishing an airlink between Masterton and Auckland once the Hood Aerodrome upgrade is complete. The airline uses the Saab 340 aircraft. Chathams Air said it was interested in starting a service from Masterton using its Saab 340 twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Because of the runway’s limited length and available run-off area, the airfield would need a special permission to allow the aircraft to operate. Council chief executive Kym Fell said they were about to start on the certification process, which would require an analysis by an independent assessor to judge whether it was safe for the Saabs. “There are a lot of hurdles we have to get across which relate to how short the runway is,” he said. “A significant amount of work has to go into a safety management plan.” Normally the runway would have a 240-metre RESA (Runway End Safety Area), but not less than 90 metres. “That might be a challenge for us, because we don’t really have 90m,” Fell said. He said they would look at other solutions to mitigate safety concerns to satisfy the Civil Aviation Authority. The runway was being widened and resealed, as well as improving its infrastructure to support development on the airfield such as a new terminal. In 2020 the Government promised $10m to the project from Crown Infrastructure Funding, previously the Provincial Growth Fund. The remaining $7m would be paid for by the council. “It’s quite an expensive piece of work but it has to be done so that we can apply for a Civil Aviation Part 139 certification,” Fell said. “By getting that certification it essentially allows a scheduled flight to be able to operate in and out of Masterton.” Work was scheduled to be completed by mid-May. A previous plan included buying land on the other side of road from the northern end of the runway, but the council decided it was too expensive to do at this stage. “That’s off the table simply because of affordability.” This would have allowed the runway to be extended and more easily accommodate larger aircraft. Fell was the chief executive of Whanganui District Council when it helped Air Chathams start a service out of that city. Air Chathams chief operating officer Duane Emeny said they had “high interest” in starting a Masterton service but he acknowledged there were still many details to work through. He said the Saab 340s currently serving Kāpiti, Whanganui, Whakatane and the Chatham Islands would be their aircraft of choice for Wairarapa. “We think that is the ideal aeroplane for some of those New Zealand regional routes, and Masterton has similarities to the Whanganui service that we operate.” He said Hood Aerodrome was “quite constrained in terms of its physical dimensions” and that was something that they “flagged very early” with the council. Air New Zealand operated an Auckland service out of Masterton from 2009 to 2013 which was popular with locals, but the national carrier pulled out of regional routes because it did not want to continue to operate its Beech aircraft at a loss.

Source : https://www.thepost.co.nz/nz-news/350199922/masterton-airport-upgrade-may-still-come-short

No comments:

Post a Comment