Extension of CJIA runway complete
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Project Manager of the CJIA Modernisation Project, Carrissa Gooding
Project Manager of the CJIA Modernisation Project, Carrissa Gooding

-awaiting approvals from GCAA

WITHIN the coming months, the runway at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) will have the capacity to accommodate much larger aircraft, owing to the recently completed extension of the airport’s existing runway.

As works on the CJIA Modernisation Project progress, the runway which previously measured 2,270 metres, can now boast of being one of the longest such structures in the Region, measuring at 3,360 metres. During an assessment visit to the airport on Friday last, Project Manager of the CJIA Modernisation Project, Carrissa Gooding, indicated that the northeastern end of the asphaltic surface has benefited from 400 metres of additional runway, and 250 metres of the Runway End Safety Area (RESA). Meanwhile, the southeastern end of the runway was extended by some 690 metres, with an added 90 metres of RESA.

The pilots of this aircraft recognised the sandbags and landed in accordance with the original measurements of the runway (Adrian Narine photos)

As it is, the extended structure has not been put to use; aircraft flying in and out of the CJIA continue to utilise the original dimensions of the runway, pending the requisite approvals from the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). Sandbags have since been aligned to indicate large ‘Xs on the completed extensions, so as to signal pilots that those areas are not ready for use. Once given the go-ahead, the contracted firm China Harbours Engineering Consultants (CHEC), will proceed to remove the sandbags and begin outfitting the runway with the requisite lighting and markings that will notify pilots that the structure is ready for full use.

Gooding said that the GCAA is currently conducting installation of a $200 million Instrument Landing System (ILS). The system will enable pilots to execute safer landings, even during unfavourable weather conditions. In 2019, the GCAA had said, “Following the upgrade and extension of the runway at CJIA, the acquisition of this new and modern ILS system will enhance the landing capability of aircraft at the CJIA to alleviate the need for diversions of aircraft in minimal weather conditions.”

The system was initially scheduled to be installed by February 2020, but due to several delays and modifications that the CJIA expansion has suffered, this deadline could not have been met. The ILS is a precision-approach aid employing two radio signals that provide pilots with vertical and horizontal guidance during the landing phase of an aircraft. The localiser (LOC) provides azimuth guidance, while the glideslope (GS) defines the correct vertical descent profile.

Efforts to install the Instrument Landing System (ILS) are ongoing

To put it simply, in cases of unfavourable weather conditions, the ILS guides airplanes down to the runway as low as 200 feet above the runway, at which point the pilot will be better able to make a visual descent to continue his landing.
Other expected outcomes and impact of the new Instrument Landing System include reductions in operation costs and increases to airport capacity and access.

This project will also allow the government to be in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO’s) Global Air Navigation Plan for Runways and Vertical Guidance. The ILS installation, coupled with the CJIA modernisation efforts, brings the government much closer to realising the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number nine, which seeks to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.

Nonetheless, Gooding said that efforts are also moving apace to do proper landscaping along the spanking new runway. CHEC workers, she said, are currently “grassing” the embankment that aligns with the asphaltic structure.

The engineer said that reports of the soil “washing away” were inaccurate representations of the earlier phases of the project to beautify the airport. Gooding specified that approximately 80 per cent of the embankment has so far been planted with seeds. “We are just waiting for those seeds to germinate for us to get the grass,” Gooding posited.

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