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Closure of Runway at Cape Town International
Tuesday, November 29, 2005 | 00:00

SAFETY REMAINS  A  KEY PRIORITY FOR ACSA’S AIRPORTS

Following largely inaccurate speculation in the media relating to the runway closure event at Cape Town International Airport on Sunday 27 November, ACSA would like to clarify the following with respect to the event:

The main and secondary runways of Cape Town International Airport were closed from 11.35am until 5pm on Sunday 27 November. This was done to allow a professional team to carry out repairs on a portion of the main runway where the asphalt surface had lifted. It was discovered and reported by a pilot lined up for take off on runway 19 at about 11.20am. Given the clearly visible defect and the fact that the last runway inspection had been carried out uneventfully earlier that morning, we believe this event occurred during a take-off or landing immediately preceding the flight that reported the defect.

On close inspection, our engineers found that pieces of an approximately 6 by 3 meter wide and 3 centimetre thick portion of the runway surface asphalt had lifted from the underlying asphalt layers.

“ACSA deeply regrets this unprecedented event and the inconvenience caused, but we take safety very seriously and we were not prepared to compromise the safety of our airport users” said George Uriesi, General Manager of the airport.  “I can confirm that our runways are constructed and maintained in line with International standards for the aviation industry and some of the best equipped and safest in the African continent and among the best in the world. This commitment to safety and the provision of world class airport infrastructure has earned CTIA numerous awards over the years”, commented Uriesi.

Such unscheduled interruptions are also not unique in the aviation industry. Airports all over the world often interrupt scheduled activities when the need arises. ACSA prides itself in maintaining the highest safety standards as required by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the safety regulatory body. “The CAA plays a particularly important role in ensuring safer skies. ACSA not only adheres to CAA requirements, but in many instances exceeds them. We are confident that a body such as the CAA will agree that we had no choice but to put safety first”, said Uriesi.

Since being reopened at 5pm on Sunday, Cape Town International Airport’s runway has been fully operational. We would also like to stress that our airfield maintenance practices conform to the best international standards and that they are carried out by highly skilled experts in the field.

A minimum of 6 runway inspections are conducted daily at various intervals of the day, taking into account the flight schedule, in addition to keeping a regular sweeping lookout of the runway. The runway is also subject to a rigorous maintenance process which includes the use of a highly sophisticated pavement management system. It must be re-iterated that in this instance, the closure of the runway was a safety precautionary measure to prevent any potential risks to flight safety. For this financial year, ACSA is spending approximately R36 million on the maintenance of this runway which is 3.2km long.

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