Working on live infrastructure within the aviation and defence sectors requires significant preparation and the support of an experienced surfacing contractor to minimise disruption and deliver a high-quality result. The time-sensitive nature of these resurfacing projects translates into higher risk for both the contractor and the client. For the client, it is essential that the runway is out of action for the shortest possible period. For the contractor, the need to produce the required result amidst challenging operational circumstances creates the potential for reputational risk.
Understanding customer requirements
Working windows within runway resurfacing projects are extremely tight, making detailed planning essential. The need to complete the necessary work as quickly as possible, whilst also fully complying with the strict material specifications required within these sectors, makes these projects particularly challenging. In order to minimise any disruption to the customer’s operations, these projects are often completed at night.
To achieve the necessary results, the surfacing contractor must ensure that the right resources are in place and materials are delivered to site.
Planning a runway resurfacing project
Extensive planning will be required to ensure that the right surface is laid and that potential complications are accounted for and addressed ahead of the allocated working window. The surfacing contractor will need to work closely with the client to monitor weather conditions in advance of the programme to ensure that any materials can be laid effectively and that the quality of the surface can be maintained. If poor weather is expected, the contractor will need to liaise with the client so that the client can make the final decision on whether to press ahead or not. Depending on the contractor’s prior experience in the aviation and defence sectors, they may also need to obtain suitable plant and equipment to work on the runway. In particular, different compaction requirements in these sectors mean that specialist equipment is often necessary.
Security is a key consideration within runway resurfacing projects. The surfacing contractor needs to be prepared to allocate the time and resources to comply with all necessary precautions. As security arrangements differ between airports, it’s essential that the contractor works closely with the client to understand and implement all their requirements. Any on-site operatives will be expected to complete an induction process to check that they are familiar with any restrictions and are cleared to work on the runway. In the case of large, ongoing projects, it may make financial sense to allocate the same operatives to an airport or military base over time. This will eliminate the need for lengthy induction processes whilst also allowing gangs to build site-specific knowledge and further increase their efficiency.
As with any time-sensitive project, its important to ensure that all the necessary equipment is delivered on site so that the programme can proceed as planned. In an aviation or defence setting, these logistical arrangements will need to be approved by the client so that any delivery restrictions can be taken into account. If the runway resurfacing project is taking place within a particularly high security environment, delivery vehicles may need to be escorted whilst on site. In order to minimise the risk of any project delays, a full set of redundant equipment will often be needed on site as a contingency measure. This ensures that, in the event of any issues, plant or equipment can quickly be switched out and progress can be maintained. Working with an experienced and well-resourced surfacing contractor will provide peace of mind that an effective and resilient supply chain is in place during the resurfacing project.
A close working relationship between surfacing contractor and client is the best way to mitigate risk within these time-sensitive projects. By prioritising communication and ensuring that both parties are aware of any updates or potential issues, disruption to the programme of works can be avoided. Aviation and defence environments have significant access restrictions, making it essential that delays are eliminated where possible. For this reason, the need to have back-up plans in place is particularly important when working with these sectors. An experienced surfacing contractor will understand this and will be prepared to adopt a proactive and collaborative approach.