DCA says 500m-long runway best option for Gozo
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DCA says 500m-long runway best option for Gozo

The Department of Civil Aviation, in a 2009 report to the government tabled in Parliament yesterday, said that for safe operations, should a Gozo airstrip be built, a non-instrument runway strip of 500m, 18 metres wide, would be the best option.

The department said the obvious advantage of fixed wing aircraft over helicopters was the considerable cost reductions in the initial procurement of equipment, operations, maintenance, fuel and crew.

It said that over the years it assessed a variety of proposals for a runway of varying lengths in different locations on Gozo, including an extension of the present 174m long helipad, which required the least level of intervention on the existing infrastructure.

The department said that ICAO specified that for the runway type envisaged on Gozo, a runway strip had to extend to 30 metres at each end of the runway and by 30 metres (measured from the centreline ) on both sides. This meant that an additional area (the runway strip) needed to be added to the actual landing field length.

Apart from this area around the runway, there needed to be an Obstacle Limitation Surface that safeguarded aircraft operations and prevented the airfield becoming unusable should there be an increase of obstacles in the vicinity of the airfield. This OLS started 30 metres from the threshold of the runway and had a slope of 5% with a divergence of 10% on each side for a distance of up to 1,600 metres.

The department said the runway should, ideally, be paved since a grass runway was difficult to maintain, especially in summer, and the take-off run would be increased by as much as 10%.

An airstrip of 500 metres could be used for aircraft such as the 19-passenger Viking Twin Otter, the nine-passenger Islander and the seven-passenger Pilatus PC-6, with safety margins.

The department said the runway extension would cover a presently disused land in Xewkija and a smaller area at the Ghajnsielem end of the existing Heliport. There would also need to be a realignment of Triq ta' Lambert or an underpass.

The DCA said it was not within its remit to advise on the viability o otherwise of such a project from an economic, financial, environmental or social perspective.

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