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Summer Runway Success

Between May and the end of August 2015, YVR executed the first phase of one of the most challenging and complex airfield improvement projects in recent years: the construction of Runway End Safety Areas – RESAs - on the south side of the airfield. 
RESAs are specialized areas at the end of a runway that protect passengers and reduce the severity of damage to an aircraft in the unlikely event of an aircraft overrun or undershoot. 
Excellence in safety is at the core of all decisions we make at YVR. To improve the safety of the travelling public, YVR has taken a proactive approach to the South airfield RESAs; at 300 metres each, RESAs on YVR’s South and Crosswind Runways will double the anticipated Canadian standard of 150 metres. This 300 metres meets international best practices, which we feel are more relevant, given YVR’s growing mix of international traffic. 
As this construction took place in the midst of our 100 busiest days ever and at the height of our busy summer travel season, crews worked around the clock to complete these essential infrastructure projects on time and on budget. Each night, a crew of more than 150 workers descended upon the airfield, working simultaneously at both ends of the South Runway before putting the runway back together for morning flight operations at 6:30 a.m.
Initially, Metro Vancouver’s unprecedented drought conditions posed a challenge for this project, but we soon adjusted our plans to manage the resulting dust.  By the end of the summer, however, YVR crews had successfully completed the RESA at the west end (08R, in navigational terms) of the South Runway, our longest and most-used runway. 

Construction crews were tasked to move the existing threshold (the line that delineates the start of the runway) 60 metres to the east. This meant removing and replacing more than 400 airfield lights, shifting all navigational aids, repaving the surface and painting new markings to match the new threshold location. At the same time,  an average of 40 dump truck loads of base material per hour were delivered to the runway’s east end (26L), in preparation for its RESA completion next summer. That’s a lot of sand and gravel! 

Meanwhile, Taxiway Delta – one of YVR’s most vital airfield arteries – would soon require an unexpected repair. Its pavement was showing signs of buckling, causing a potentially unsafe condition for aircraft and passengers. The increased use of larger and heavier aircraft on the taxiway, combined with Vancouver’s record-breaking dry hot summer, caused the pavement to melt in the sun. As with all unscheduled operations, the airport responded safely and seamlessly. Engineers, airfield coordinators and construction crews sprang into action to restore Taxiway Delta in record time and with minimal impact to operations. It was an orchestrated dance of exceptional coordination. 

To see YVR’s airfield construction action on a busy summer night was just as thrilling as the sight of a bustling terminal in the middle of a Friday afternoon. The entire airport community and its partners rallied to make the 2015 summer airfield improvements a great success. 

A special thanks goes out to key partners: Hatch Mott McDonald, Jacob Bros. Construction, Giffels Westpro, Bayhill Contracting, Continental Power and Columbia Bitulithic. None of this would have been possible without the support and daily coordination from the highly skilled NAV CANADA team who work relentlessly to keep aircraft safely moving on the ground and in the sky. Finally, our airline partners and members of the community also deserve a resounding thank you for their patience throughout the project.

We look forward to continuing our RESA South Airfield improvements in summer 2016, with full completion scheduled for 2017. For more information on these important safety improvements, visit the RESA section of our website. 


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