Major facelift was carried out to Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) to accomodate large aircraft like A380 and to increase tourism traffic.
Though the runway upgrade failed to meet international standards required to accommodate larger aircraft which is ‘Code F’ status, the A380 could still land.
According to CAASL one of the primary aims of the project was to renovate the tarmac so that it would accommodate Airbus A380 aircraft.
Prior to renovation, the runway measured a length of 3,350 metres and a width of 45 metres, with a 76.5-metre shoulder on either side. The pre-renovation tarmac was unable to hold A380s ‒ the outermost engines of the aircraft would be outside the paved runway.
As per the proposal, the Rs. 7.2 billion renovation project was expected to achieve the following:
• Replace deteriorated sections of the runway and taxiway structural pavements.
• Overlay the runway pavement and widen runway shoulders to meet modified code F operations. This would allow the accommodation of bigger aircraft such as A380s.
• Overlay of the deteriorated sections of parallel taxiway and exit taxiways to meet modified code F requirements.
• Replace the existing runway lighting system and cables with new runway lighting system with cables.
• Replace the existing taxiway lighting system and cables with new taxiway LED lighting system and cables including new centerline lights
As is clear in the above proposals, one of the aims was to widen the runway shoulders “to meet modified code F operations” ‒ which is where most of the confusion now stems from.
However Director General of the CAASL, H. M. C. Nimalsiri, said The CAASL did not pay that much attention to their wording,” he said, adding that “There is nothing called a ‘modified Code F’ standard that was proposed or planned for the project. The crux of our project is mentioned ‒ ‘to widen the shoulders of the tarmac’
According to Nimalsiri, the CAASL’s priority was to resurface the runway in order to accommodate A380 aircrafts ‒ not aim for ‘Code F’ classification.
No matter what media says and find fault, for a country that has resurfaced from its bloody Civil War, this Airport upgrade is highly appreciable….