LONDON – Gatwick Airport has adopted a new runway resurfacing technique that has been thought over during the COVID lockdown periods.
The original plan was to resurface the runway traditionally, adding a new 50mm layer of asphalt once every 7 to 9 years on the entire runway. This process usually took at least 2 days for it to be completed.
This is not what is going to happen this time, however, as the new method is to add asphalt on the most frequently used areas of the runway, which is the touchdown area, as other parts have more than 5 years of service life left, which means that resurfacing those parts would just be a waste of asphalt.
Using the new resurfacing methods, the total asphalt savings would be up to 70% while also significantly reducing the embodied carbon emissions that are produced during the fabrication of the asphalt.
The other major benefit of using the new methods is that it would save a significant amount of time as this project could be done in a single night.
According to Gatwick Airport, the total amount of asphalt that is going to be used is about 40.000 tons, which is 100,000 tons, or approximately 71%, a reduction from asphalt that has to be used compared with the traditional methods while also saving 50% of the total costs and completing the entire project within 6 months.
Alasdair Scobie, Capital Delivery Director at London Gatwick Airport, said: “The pandemic gave us the time and reason to rethink our original design.”
“We think we have achieved the best balance possible between cost, operational constraints, and durability whilst reducing the environmental impact of construction. The cost savings can now also be reinvested in improvements across other parts of the airport.”
Innovations like this have a massive impact not only on the environment but also on being cost-effective and, therefore, more competitive towards other airports.
Staying cost-effective towards other airports means that you can lower your cost that you can calculate towards the airlines flying, making it more attractive to fly to Gatwick and getting more customers.
The fact that the downtime is cut short by 50% also means that there won’t be a significant impact on the operational side of the airport, keeping the losses minimal.
The environmental impact is also significant in the reduction of the asphalt that has to be used. By having to resurface the most used parts of the runway, the asphalt that has to be used is also drastically reduced, and as it has been said earlier, it would have a total reduction of approximately 71% compared to traditional methods.
It’s that reduction in asphalt production that would also have an indirect impact on the environment. Less asphalt produced also means less CO2 and other greenhouse gasses that are going to be emitted into the environment.
That is going to be a major step toward the future’s sustainability goals. It is at the moment almost impossible to be 100% free of emissions, but it is at least a step toward the sustainability goals of 2030.