Fri | Dec 4, 2020

Hotels pose no obstacle to airplanes after runway expansion – MBJ Obstacle survey

Published:Wednesday | July 10, 2019 | 12:16 AMJanet Silvera - Hospitality Jamaica Coordinator

Montego Bay Airports (MBJ) has sought to dispel fears that hotel in the east of the tourism capital may now become obstacles to airplanes landing and taking off when the expansion of the Sangster International Airport runway is completed.

The reassurance was given by Chief Technical Officer at MBJ Shane Munroe at a recent public meeting at The University of the West Indies, Mona, Western Jamaica Campus in response to concerns raised by a senior member of the St James Fire Department.

The fire department representative raised the possibility of very tall resorts near the airport, such as RIU, becoming an ­impediment due to the eastward expansion of the runway.

“We have a consultant dedicated to doing what you call obstacle surveys, so what we have done is to do a survey of all the ­obstacles in the vicinity of the airport outside the airport property, including the RIU and beyond west, east, north and south of the runway,” Munroe explained.

With the extension of the runway, the threshold, he said, is exactly where the aircraft will touch down on the runway and the approach surfaces.

“These are imaginary surfaces that are protected as it relates to obstacles, and RIU will be clear of that. RIU will not be an ­obstruction or obstacle as it relates to this new approach that will be developed or ­­designed for the runway ­extension,” he added.

Munroe said that the only obstacles were utility electricity poles and that these would be removed and the power supply run underground.

“It’s a discussion that we continue to have with the regulator, which is the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, in that any obstacles that exist – and there are a few – they will be removed, and they are mainly related to Jamaica Public Service (JPS) poles, for ­example. There are JPS poles that are in the vicinity of the Sandals boatyard; those will be an obstacle because of the runway ­extension going further east,” he explained.

In this case, he added, this project will take those poles underground, which will be beneficial to the city.

The venture, dubbed the Runway Expansion and Associated Works Project, is part of MBJ’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan. The scope of works includes the extension of the airport’s runway, the widening of Taxiway ‘E’, and the installation of a jet blast screen at the expanded Taxiway ‘E’.

The runway-expansion works will enable the airport to meet the requirements of, the International Civil Aviation Organization as well as improve the safety of the runway, while the widening of Taxiway ‘E’ and the installation of the jet blast screen will provide increased safety at the taxiway.

The project was approved by the Cabinet in August 2018 and is being financed by the Airport Improvement Fund. Its estimated completion date is January 2021, with construction of airfield works projected to begin in September this year.

The other airfield works that comprise the project are the realignment of Kent Avenue and local utilities, and the construction of a bridge. Shoreline-protection works are also proposed, which would ­involve the rehabilitation of derelict protection infrastructure located at the western end of Kent Avenue.

According to the project document, Kent Avenue and the surrounding local utilities will be realigned to establish adequate distances between the extended runway and the north airside perimeter, while the current access to the Jamaica Defence Force’s Second Battalion base and IAM Jet Centre will be decommissioned.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com