Wednesday 27 February 2019
In October 2018, the States Trading Supervisory Board was directed to consult with the Director of Civil Aviation in respect of potential modifications to the Runway End Safety Area (RESA) at the eastern end of Guernsey Airport. For any non-aeronautical members, this is an area within the boundaries of the airfield that is retained to minimise the risk of damage to an aircraft or injury to its passengers should it overshoot or undershoot the runway on take-off or landing.
The intention of the resolution was to explore whether a limited extension to the existing runway operating length can be achieved by reducing the length of the current RESA. This would require a safety case to be made, to the satisfaction of the Director of Civil Aviation, for a reduced RESA length. If that could be achieved, the resolution required the STSB to report back to the States by 31 March 2019 with indicative costs of any required adjustments.
The management team at Guernsey Airport has commissioned an experienced aviation consultant to conduct a formal aviation risk assessment. This study will consider the potential adjustment to the RESA length, to achieve an extension to the runway operating length of around 100 metres, as well as alternative means of providing protection around the runway ends . That includes a potential solution known as an Engineered Material Arresting System or EMAS, which uses collapsible cement blocks to slow an overshooting aircraft. The output from this study will provide an evidence base for review by the Director of Civil Aviation in due course.
Regretfully the scoping and commissioning of this study was delayed because Guernsey Airport Management had to prioritise significant regulatory-related activity over the last few months. STSB agreed that this essential compliance work should be given precedence over the RESA study, but I can report that the formal aviation risk assessment was commissioned in early February 2019.
The timescale for the findings, including the review by the Director of Civil Aviation, means that the STSB should be able to report back on this matter by June 2019. However, in the event that the evaluation is not approved by the Director of Civil Aviation, the Board may be able to report back sooner.
While the short delay is regrettable, the STSB remains committed to working through this resolution. Nevertheless a thorough evaluation is necessary to provide the Director of Civil Aviation with qualified evidence to consider any potential reduction in the existing RESA.