Along with tripling the size of the Owen Roberts International Airport’s terminal building, plans for the Grand Cayman airport’s future include increasing runway safety.
CEO of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority David Frederick confirmed that the Owen Roberts International Airport master plan calls for additional taxiways and safety areas in the next phase of development, which is during the period 2010 -2015.
The safety areas will comprise additional areas at the end of the runway, Mr. Frederick noted, although he did not have the specific dimensions for this to hand at press time.
‘Any additional runway in front of an aircraft can only be considered as beneficial to a safe operation,’ he said.
Mr. Frederick was responding to questions from the Caymanian Compass on the length of the runway at Owen Roberts International Airport in relation to safety.
Last week, an international pilots’ group called for runway extensions at airports to boost safety following the deadly plane crash at Sao Paulo Congonhas Airport, Brazil, with a runway of 6,363 feet, in which at least 189 people died.
The runway at ORIA is 7,000 ft long by 150ft wide, Mr. Frederick said.
Noting that the biggest aircraft serving ORIA is the B767 aircraft, he explained that there are a number of factors that must be considered in determining the length of runway required in which to stop an aircraft, for example, weight and engine thrust. Because of this, he said, today that aircraft may stop in 4,000-foot and tomorrow 5,000-foot.
When asked specifically about the possibility of extending the runway, if need be, for example, to accommodate transatlantic flights, Mr. Frederick said that should an extension be required in the future, the length of the extension would depend on the type of aircraft, and the type of operation to be accommodated.
‘Should there be a change in the market whereby there was interest in transatlantic flights then you would be looking at some where in the range of an additional 2,000 ft feet of runway.’
However, he added that there are no expressions of interest in transatlantic flights.
The ORIA expansion project is on schedule, he said, with the award of the contract for the preliminary landside works last week. This work includes, among other items:
Construction of a new perimeter road around the new parking lot;
Construction of the new staff parking lot;
Demolition of the existing maintenance and electric utility building and the demolition of the existing porte cocheres (porch that allows vehicles to pass through) located at the arrival and departure curbs;
Construction of a new arrival and departure curb and roadway in front of the terminal building – to be approximately 800 feet long and three to five lanes wide;
Reconstruction of the existing short-term parking lot hot mixed asphalt pavement.
Works on the main building are to begin in early 2008.
The expansion of Owen Roberts International Airport will see the terminal building grow from its current 69,000-square-feet to that of 205,000 and is to be done while the airport is fully operational.