Société Aéroport Toulouse-Blagnac (SATB), operator of Toulouse-Blagnac airport
Runway 14R/32L at Toulouse-Blagnac airport in France is a vital piece of infrastructure in the airport’s operations for two key reasons. Firstly, it’s the most frequently used runway for Airbus, where ultra-high capacity aircraft with heavy weights operate and where unusual operations take place for test flights.
It is also a Cat III runway which enables precision instrument approaches and landing operations in all weather, with centreline and side aeronautical ground lighting (AGL) embedded in the pavement. The runway also has a famous pedigree – it’s where the first Concorde test flight took off from back in 1969.
Although regular maintenance is carried out on airside infrastructure, in 2019 runway 14R/32L and the related M11 and S11 taxiways all needed refurbishment and so did the airport ramps. This was a EUR 13 million investment by the airport operator to renovate infrastructure, lighting and wastewater drainage.
Role of Egis
Egis worked as a project manager to cover the design, engineering, and construction management of the refurbishment work.
Scope of works included:
- Design of pavement refurbishment:
- Upgrade to geometric design standards;
- Refurbishment of flexible pavement;
- Assistance to project owner with pavement modelling and search for novel solutions in response to the unusual cracking on top of the asphalt surface;
- Ground lighting renovation or implementation and the related civil engineering;
- Renovation or implementation of drainage systems
- Construction management with a resident works supervisor in the safety area.
During the design phase, we strived to meet our customer’s requirements and added in many contract options and conditional agreements. The project schedule was completely adapted to the operational constraints and environment, with limited disruption to air traffic and keeping critical underground utilities undamaged.
Our customer particularly chose us for our capacity to address the complexity of this project and because we had the required expertise to bring solutions to the specific condition of runway 14R/32L. The pavement of the runway has a particular structure: it is made of hydraulic concrete slabs together with an asphalt mix added to it in 2004. To address the specific and unusual cracking on top of the asphalt surface of the runway we used 3D modelling to research the cause and propose new and innovative refurbishment solutions. We identified issues with the joints of the slabs and probable micro-cavities and damage caused by the heavy load of aircraft landing gears, exceeding 35 tons.
As regards pavement cracking, the customer chose one of our proposed solutions and we implemented it on a limited area of the threshold of runway 32L by planing down to the concrete slabs, adding special treatment on the joints, and refurbishing the pavement surface base and wearing courses. This experimental area will be subject to specific monitoring and the solution will be extended to the entire runway during the next phase of repair work.
Along with all stakeholders who worked on the project, we had to deal with uncertainty because of COVID-19 and its impact on site visits and preliminary design activities in early 2020. However, thanks to the commitment of our technical teams and the full support received from our customer and partners, the delay in project completion was limited to only 4 weeks across a 22-month project overall.