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Runways require careful work

Article published
9.7.2015 at 09:00
A runway is a stretch of road planned and realised with great care. Its asphalt surface hides all sorts of structures, cables, and light fixtures.

A sea of light emerges in front of the aeroplane. As the aeroplane wheels hit the ground, they are supported by a meticulously planned and built surface.

Runways must possess exceptional strength and durability. An aeroplane is ten times heavier than an articulated lorry with a full load. Moreover, runways are subjected to massive point loads as an aeroplane wheel after another touchdown.

Helsinki Airport's runway 1 under general overhaul

At the moment, runway 1, first commissioned in 1952, is undergoing a complete overhaul. Likewise, the runways of Kittilä and Vaasa airports are being renovated. 

'We are completely renewing runway 1. The project started with inspection and reinforcement of the current foundations as necessary', explains Helsinki Airport's Vice President Heini Noronen-Juhola from Finavia.

A great deal of electrical and telecommunication cables run under the runway. Over 3 km of runway results in some 30 km of cabling work. The area has nearly 2,000 light fixtures, while the number in the entire flight traffic area is roughly 14,000.

'This all is covered by layers of asphalt with a total thickness of 40 to 50 cm. We want to use asphalt that is of as high a quality, tight, and durable as possible', continues Noronen-Juhola.

The overhaul of runway 1 costs roughly 18 million euros. The work is carried out by two asphalt providers and a few hundred subcontractor workers.

Good cooperation with airlines

The runway overhaul project started at the beginning of May and should end by the beginning of August.

'First, we will work on the crossing areas of runways 1 and 2. We are handling taxiways to runway 3, ensuring that there are always two taxiways available for use', says Noronen-Juhola.

Runway 3 functions as the airport's main runway for the duration of the overhaul project. Runway 2 will is also in use but with a lower capacity.

'We planned the flight schedules during the renovations together with the airlines. In fact, I want to thank our airlines for good cooperation and flexibility!'

Read more about the impact of the overhaul project on the flight schedules and passenger traffic on our site. There are some temporary changes in the aircraft noise areas. More information is available on the resident site.

Three runways

Helsink Airport has three runways.

Runway 1 was completed in 1952, the same year the airport was inaugurated. Runway 2 was introduced in 1956 and runway 3 in 2003.

How the runways are used at Helsinki Airport.