GPL Civil Engineering Ltd

"Safely delivering the UK's Infrastructure"




GPL Secure £3.2M Manchester Airport Contract

Main Contractor Costain are working to schedule to complete this much needed project by the end of August 2011. The existing runway lighting system requires full replacement in order to ensure ongoing reliability of the system to maintain safe operations.

The project requires a huge team of specialised personnel including Manchester Airport Policy and Planning Department, the Costain workforce, designers, project managers, airfield engineers, air traffic control and specialised equipment suppliers to name but a few.

After clearance of localised shrubs and trees in the Bollin Valley, the main works began in November 2010.

The project includes the construction of a new sub-station to provide power to the new runway lighting system; provision of a new ‘pit and duct’ system around Runway 1 which will provide the infrastructure for the new lighting cables; installation of new lighting cables and other electrical infrastructure such as transformers throughout the pit and duct system, and the construction and installation of a new approach lighting system (including the construction of new foundations and the erection of a new mast and lights).

Other works comprise the insertion of over 1000 new ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ light fittings into the existing runway; removal of existing light fittings and, finally, resurfacing the full length and width of the runway.

The works include remediation of the existing Runway 1 drainage system and some land drainage at the eastern end to reduce the incidence of flooding in this area, which can act as an attraction to birds.

Manchester Airport intends to use two materials that have not yet been used at any major UK airport: LED centreline lights and un-grooved BBA (Beton Bitumeux Aeronautique) surfacing material.

Unlike most previous runway resurfacing/refurbishment projects at UK airports, Manchester will remain open and operational as arriving/departing aircraft will operate from Runway 2 whilst Runway 1 is closed.
Due to the layout of the runways at Manchester, aircraft taxiing to and from the terminal buildings from Runway 2 have to cross Runway 1. Hence, due to the potential conflict between aircraft and site traffic, particular attention has had to be paid to ensuring the safe management and movement of both aircraft and vehicles.

Due to traffic volumes during the day and at the weekend during the summer season, the works can only take place between the hours of 9.30pm to 6.30am, Sunday through Thursday nights inclusive. The handover procedure prior to the start of morning operations has to be particularly thorough due to the potential for Foreign Object Debris (FOD) being left on the runway from the previous night’s works. This could cause serious damage to engines/ tyres with consequential risks to safety.

There are also the usual security considerations to be taken into account when working in an airport. These include the management of aircraft/vehicular conflicts, and the fact that forecast visibility/cloud base below certain set criteria limits the use of Runway 2 – and therefore in such conditions Runway 1 has to remain open and night closure has to be postponed. In addition, constructing new approach lighting is problematical due to the topography at the western end of the runway (River Bollin Valley) and the presence of the railway line at the eastern end.

Despite all these challenges, this phase of the works is on schedule and the construction of the sub-station and pit and duct system is ongoing. Manchester Airport Community Relations Team is updating their web-site with an informative account of the work progress with videos of the work involved.

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