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Queenstown’s new runway lights to be put to the test

21 April 2016

New runway, taxiway, approach and apron lights are now in place ready to greet pilots and passengers flying into Queenstown Airport after dark, and will be fully put to the test over the next week.

The $1.65 million airfield lighting project, part of a wider $19.6 million Queenstown Airport runway infrastructure upgrade to be completed by the end of April, is in its final stages with stringent testing and calibration of the lights now started.

“Queenstown residents will get their first peek of the runway lights on at night next week when our engineers undertake their visual inspection of the lights via helicopter,” says Airways’ Queenstown Tower Chief Controller Clayton Lightfoot.

“Over the past few days they’ve been using a light aircraft to test the lights during the day. But it’s mid next week when all of the lights will be turned on after dark for the first time. It should be an impressive sight,” he says.

During the flight inspection in the evening via helicopter, the lights will be turned on and off as needed.  

“This might look a bit unusual – the helicopter will be buzzing around at varying altitudes around the airfield, flying aircraft approach and departure paths repeatedly as our flight inspectors on board check the lights,” Mr Lightfoot says.

“However, rest assured that this is all part of a robust calibration and testing regime and the manoeuvres are being closely monitored and managed by air traffic control,” he adds.

About 200 lights have been installed or repositioned, including Precision Approach Path Indicator lights (PAPI) lights, and touchdown approach, runway centreline, runway edge and threshold lights.

Industry standard LED (light emitting diode) lights have been installed – key benefits being brightness, resiliency, reduced maintenance and power savings.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is onsite during the flight inspections and ground checks of the lights, and will give approval for commissioning of the lights subject to flight tests by airlines and final approval by Queenstown Airport.

The runway works, carried out over the past six months in parallel with the lighting upgrade, has involved widening the runway from 30m to 45m and resurfacing it with a 110mm asphalt overlay.

Both the runway and airfield lighting upgrades were key conditions set by New Zealand’s CAA and Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) when approving the airport’s evening flights safety case in 2014.  

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Asia Pacific

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