Why does Stuttgart Airport's runway have to be partially renewed in 2020?
Concrete surfaces have a limited lifetime. This applies to bridges and highways just as much as it does to airport runways. The weight of the aircraft landing there, the weather and the winter de-icing agents all have an impact on Stuttgart Airport's only runway. Inspections have now shown that about 1,200 meters of the concrete surface in the eastern part of the runway have to be completely renewed.
Why does the runway only has to be renewed in the east?
In 1996, Stuttgart Airport's runway was extended from 2,550 meters to 3,345 meters. The surface of the concrete in this eastern area now has to be replaced, also because this is particularly subjected to a great deal of use: when an airplane lands in Stuttgart, it usually touches down there.
How is the condition of the runway checked?
In order to ensure the safety of flight operations at all times, the Stuttgart Airport operator regularly checks the condition of the runway, taxiways and the entire apron area. The state of the roughly 22,000 concrete slabs on the entire site is recorded in a register, in which all works and changes are logged. To date, small fragments have been renewed as and when needed.
Are there alternatives to renewal?
Flughafen Stuttgart GmbH has examined various options. In order to obtain a uniform surface with the longest possible durability, it has ultimately been decided to renew the concrete.
Couldn't the big taxiways serve as interim runways?
No. Passenger planes are not allowed to take off and land on them due to the many regulations pertaining to safety and distances.
When exactly will the construction work take place?
The partial renewal of the runway will take place in two phases. Each will take 28 days. From 23 April to 20 May 2020, aircraft will have a runway shortened to a maximum of 1,965 meters. From 21 May to 17 June 2020, aircraft will take off and land on a runway that is expected to be 2,475 meters long. As of Thursday, 18 June 2020, the total length of the runway, i.e. 3,345 meters, will once again be available.
Will Stuttgart Airport have to close during the construction work?
No. Most take-offs and landings will be able take place on the shortened runway. Passengers and airlines will, therefore, be subjected to only a few restrictions.
During the first construction phase (23 April to 20 May 2020), all domestic German and European destinations within a radius of approximately 1,400 kilometers will be able to be reached. As such, connections to hubs such as London, Paris and Amsterdam can also be guaranteed.
During the second construction phase (21 May to 17 June 2020), direct flights to destinations up to 2,800 kilometers away will be possible on the longer interim runway. As school holidays in Baden-Württemberg will fall during this period (2 June – 13 June 2020), travellers planning to undertake a long-distance journey should find out in good time whether their desired destinations can be reached via a non-stop flight.
Will it be safe enough to take off and land on a shorter runway?
Yes. The flight operations on the interim runway will be as safe as on the nearly three and a half kilometers long runway. There are runways at many airports around the world that are only about two kilometers in length. However, the shorter a runway, the more limited the range for non-stop flights.
Will residents notice any increase in aircraft noise during the construction period?
With fewer take-offs and landings, aircraft noise in the neighbourhood will be reduced. And it will not increase in other places either, because most aircraft using the shortened runway will not take off differently or later than before.
What effects will the construction site have on the neighbours in close proximity?
During the construction period, there will be fewer take-offs and landings at Stuttgart Airport. However, the work on the runway will generate noise. Concrete breakers and milling machines will have to be used to remove the upper concrete layer. Moreover, several truck journeys a day will be necessary. The acoustic reversing signals of the trucks will be heard as well. Flughafen Stuttgart GmbH will ensure that – with consideration for all residents – the work will be as tolerable as possible concerning noise.
How big is the area that has to be renewed?
The runway consists of around 3,600 concrete slabs. Each slab is 7.5 x 7.5 min size. Around 1,500 slabs with a total area of around 54,000 square meters have to be replaced. About 70,000 tons of concrete will have to be broken up and completely replaced.
How will the renewal of the runway be prepared?
The partial renewal of Stuttgart Airport's only runway is a project that is demanding both technically and logistically. For the last couple of years extensive preparatory work has taken place during a planning, approval and preparation phase. The application for project approval that meets aviation regulatory requirements was submitted to the Ministry of Transport of Baden-Württemberg in April 2018. The actual construction planning will carry on during the course of 2018. Following a Europe-wide call for tenders for the construction work, the project contracts will be assigned in April 2019.
Can the construction site be visited or observed in 2020?
The construction site area in the eastern part of the airport area is well visible from the surrounding area.
Might the other part of the runway have to be renewed within a few years as well?
All areas are very carefully inspected and checked. Test drillings in the western part of the runway showed that the structure of the concrete surface is without damage. For the foreseeable future, no renewals are expected to be necessary there.