There are “a whole lot of things” going on out on the Rarotonga International Airport runway right now says Airport Authority chief executive Joe Ngamata – and he’s not half wrong.
As well as the $2 million new instrument landing system project that has been in the works since March, a new “precision approach” lighting system is also being installed, in addition to ongoing work to replace the 20-year-old heat-expansion joint sealing between the runway’s concrete slabs.
With a new concrete foundation for the airport’s upgraded instrument landing system completed at the seawall end of the runway, work has now begun at the inland end to construct a new foundation there.
The actual equipment for the new system – which will be installed into the freshly prepared concrete foundations – is set to be delivered this coming Thursday on May 31.
“Then we’ve got a month to install it and test it,” says Ngamata. “Then they’ll bring in what they call the calibration flight from New Zealand to do all the flight checks.
“Once installed, when you come in on a plane into this system it will give you the centre of the runway and the angle to come in, all electronically.”
As for the new lighting system, technically known as a PAPI, or Precision Approach Path Indicator lighting system, that is also in the process of being installed, as a replacement for the airport’s older previous system.
“It tells you you’re on the right approach, that you’re on the right angle coming down,” explains Ngamata.
“When you’re coming from out there in the rain, this equipment here will put you straight in the middle,” he says. “That’s the beauty of this equipment.”
And as reported by CINews last month, work is still continuing to replace the old heat-expansion joint sealing between the concrete slabs which make up the runway’s entire length – although now at a much quicker pace than originally anticipated.
“Last time we talked, we were looking at about 10 months to a year for it,” said Ngamata.
“But we’ve got a good team on now. We put about four extra people on it and they’ve been motoring – these guys will take about three to four months to finish the whole runway now.”