Maintenance work at Frankfurt Airport’s (FRA) South Runway (07R/25L) was completed on schedule during the night from Saturday (May 7) to Sunday (May 8). In just 54 hours, a total area of some 30,500 square meters was removed and replaced with a four to six centimeter thick asphalt surface.
Thanks to intense pre-planning and the close coordination between Fraport AG (the owner and operator of Frankfurt Airport), DFS German Air Navigation Services, airlines, and government agencies, there were only minor disruptions to flight operations during the runway closure, and cancellations could be avoided almost completely.
The demanding maintenance project had been preceded by a long and comprehensive preparatory phase. Due to civil engineering requirements (application of new asphalt layers), the warmer season of the year was chosen to carry out this partly weather-dependent regular maintenance work on the runway surface and lighting. Moreover, a period with relatively low traffic volumes during the current 2016 summer schedule had to be identified.
Rolf Liebscher, head of the Fraport department responsible for airside infrastructure at FRA, said: “We are most satisfied that flight operations remained largely unaffected by this maintenance measure, to the benefit of our passengers. Simultaneously, we are now relieved to once again have all four runways fully operational. With the necessary replacement of the asphalt surface, we are able to ensure smooth operation of our South Runway for the coming years.” This operation was a daunting logistical challenge. Within just over two days, a surface corresponding to the size of four soccer pitches was renewed and around 8,000 metric tons of asphalt were removed and replaced. The maintenance work involved some 80 workers in multiple shifts.
In the first phase (carried out during the night from Thursday to Friday) the maintenance consisted of removing the old surface. This was followed by a thorough cleaning and sweeping of the surface, after which a retentive coating was applied. This formed an essential basis for the asphalt layer. From Friday to Saturday, the new asphalt layer was applied. Once the asphalt surface had cooled sufficiently, the ground markings and runway lighting could be installed. Traffic and project management gave its official clearance during the night from Saturday to Sunday, following a final inspection of the South Runway. Punctually at 5 a.m. on Sunday (May 8), traffic returned to full operational capability. In the course of the next three weeks minor additional work will be carried out on the runway lighting system and the adjacent taxiways between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.