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Archerfield Airport

PROJECT AIM – Jan20- Nov21

The project was the replacement of Archerfield’s ageing taxiway lighting system with new LED ground lighting on the main runway 10L/28R and taxiways.  The design incorporates, for the first time at Archerfield, new visual aids at both ends of the runway including Precision Approach Path Indicators (PAPIs) and Runway Threshold Identification Lights (RTILs).  The new system delivers significant safety, environmental, economic and operational benefits.  The project is part of Archerfield Airport’s Project AIM (Airside Infrastructure Modernisation), a program of upgrades that facilitates the needs of existing and new airport users and cements Archerfield’s position as Queensland’s premier general aviation airport.
Project AIM provided a unique opportunity to upgrade infrastructure at Archerfield Airport over a short time, positioning the airport to facilitate future growth in Queensland’s general aviation sector Project AIM, which encompasses the extension and strengthening of the main runway 10L/28R, the inclusion of runway end safety areas, upgrading the associated taxiway system, constructing new taxiways and other works. The installation of new lighting and visual aids at both ends of the new runway, including PAPIs and RTILs, represents a great step forward for Archerfield Airport, significantly improving safety and providing enhanced environmental, economic and operational benefits. Contracts of this size, importance and technical challenge are usually awarded to large companies but Enever Electical has a unique history and partnership with Archerfield Airport that dates back more than 30 years. When Archerfield Airport was privatised in the late 1990s, the new owners asked Enever Electrical to maintain the existing lighting system, much of which had been installed in the 1970s, until it could be replaced. At that time, LED technology was in its infancy and largely untested; some early adopters had experienced unforeseen problems with the first generations of the technology. For budgetary and operational reasons, Archerfield Airport delayed installing a new lighting system until it became clear which technology would prove superior. During this time, Enever Electrical performed great feats of resourcefulness, ingenuity and adaptation to keep the existing lighting functional and safe. Greg Enever consulted former Department of Aviation electricians and other experts to undertake repairs and keep the system operational. In 2015, Archerfield Airport became a certified airport, with all the associated stringent certification requirements, right at the time when spare parts for the lighting system were becoming increasingly rare. Greg scrounged parts from airports all over Australia that were retiring old technology, often acquiring the last parts available in the world. Some lighting that was installed in 2003 and supposed to last 25 years failed and the last parts known to exist were sourced from the United States. Enever Electrical manufactured its own bases and worked with other manufacturers to make parts that were no longer available, allowing the airport to delay increasingly inevitable capital expenditure. It was this successful, can-do attitude that Enever Electrical brought to the task when the fast-tracking of Project AIM finally gave the green light light to the installation of a new system. The extension and strengthening of the main runway provided the perfect opportunity for new lighting to be installed and by then Enever had the know-how, experience and relationship to be awarded the contract on a handshake – a significant achievement for a family-owned SME, and grateful acknowledgement by Archerfield Airport Corporation for the capital expenditure Enever had so diligently and innovatively delayed. Enever Electrical is an inspiration to other smaller companies interested in working in the aviation
SIGNIFICANCE
The design and installation of Archerfield’s new medium-intensity runway lighting represents the airport’s greatest lighting innovation for nearly 50 years but the first plan proposed was overly complicated and expensive.  It exceeded Archerfield’s needs, relied on imported products, and did not allow for future upgrades.  Enever Electrical contracted Airport Electrical, a specialist aviation lighting consultant, to redesign the system to better meet Archerfield’s needs and budget.  The new design focused on LED technology and utilised Australian-made products, making it simpler and more reliable.   SCALE
The system adopted PAL LED fittings as the main light fitting because these are made in Australia by Airport Lighting Specialitsts and comply with CASA requirements.  The upgraded lights are spaced at 60m intervals rather than the previous system’s non-standard 90m, and are sited and aimed so they do not cause visible glare at ground level.  A dual supply circuit was installed to improve reliability; if one circuit fails, the airport can continue to operate safely and effectively with a reliable lighting pattern. The project involved the installation of:  318 medium-intensity PAL LED runway and taxiway edge lights; 39 medium-intensity inset LED runway lights; 8 Research Enginerrs PAPI lights; 4 Flash Technology Runway End Identification LIghts; 23,000m of primary circuit cable; 700+ primary cable connections; 9,000m of secondary circuit cable; and 700+ secondary cable connections. As the principal electrical contactor, Enever ensured all the lights complied with CASA’s latest Part 139 (Aerodromes) Manual of Standards requirements.  The major pit and duct network was installed while runway 10L/29R was being reconstructed.  More than 20 kilometres of conduit was installed.  Enever Electrical also constructed a new Airport Lighting Electrical Room to supply all of the new equipment, installed a new generator, relocated the lighting control panel, and relocated the Pilot Activated Lighting Control system.  The new lighting system had to interface with the old Airservices Australia Air Traffic Control system and the airport’s essential and non-essential light and power were repowered from a new emergency generator location. The PAPI lights were designed and installed by Airport Electrical, using Research Engineers modular type PAPI lights because of their simplicity and easy maintenance.  The interchangeable PAPI projectors will soon be upgraded to the latest energy-saving Research Engineers LED PAPI projectors.  
IMPACT
The new lighting was commissioned in June 2021 when the new runway was opened and is already contributing to Archerfield’s development as a major general aviation centre.  Improved lighting and better approach options mean Archerfield can cater for larger, heavier aircraft and operators can use their aircraft in a broader range of contexts to meet their customers’ needs.  Larger, more modern aircraft represent important target markets for Archerfield’s MRO operators.  Companies undertaking fleet upgrades and moving from turbo prop to jets will be better serviced at Archerfield.  Flight training operators report the improvements are attractive to prospective students due to enhanced safety and operating appeal.  Project AIM infrastructure is already helping to attract general aviation business and Archerfield Airport Corporation has reported a surge in new business enquiries.  
Archerfield was once Brisbane’s main international airport.  In 1934, it facilitated the first east-west Pacific crossing from Archerfield to San Francisco by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, and Australia’s first international Airmail service from Australia to England.  A few weeks later, QANTAS began operating regular public transport (RPT) services to Singapore. Project AIM, including the reconstruction and extension of the main runway and the installation of new lighting, is critical to Archerfield’s future growth and development.  The enhanced runway will easily accommodate larger modern aircraft like the Challenger 604 and King Air 350HW that, until now, have been restricted in operation at Archerfield.  The works also set the foundations for future overlays so Archerfield can accommodate aircraft up to 80-seat capacity, should RPT services be reintroduced.  Project AIM re-establishes Archerfield’s role as a significant aviation service provider and paves the way for an exciting future to complement its rich history. The lighting system and other Project AIM improvements allow aircraft to operate at Archerfield with fewer constraints, with greater payloads and in lower minima weather conditions, thereby improving the airport’s ability to cater for Instrument Flight Rule flights.  The installation of PAPIs and RTILs at either end of the runway has enhanced safety for all aircraft operating at Archerfield, particularly when inclement weather reduces visibility.  PAPIs help pilots adjust their approach to the runway and are particularly useful when rain or fog make the runway difficult to see.  RTILs help pilots identify the end of the runway when visibility is compromised.  These systems are new additions to Archerfield’s infrastructure.  As well as providing enhanced safety to existing and new operators, they are also important training, navigation and safety aids for student pilots. Archerfield is Brisbane’s metropolitan airport and is of major economic importance to Queensland, generating $40 million in economic value annually with growth projections of up to $160 million.  It is home to 140 companies involved in flight training, charters, corporate use, aeromedical and emergency services, small freight and private operations, and sustains 500 full-time-equivalent jobs.  Archerfield plays a critical support role to Brisbane Airport by catering for non-scheduled and smaller aircraft that would otherwise delay the operation of large passenger planes or affect safety due to their significantly different speeds and wake turbulences.  By 2037, Archerfield is projected to cater for up to 260,000 aircraft movements per year. It would have been impossible for Archerfield to fulfil its growth and economic potential without substantial investment in new and upgraded infrastructure.  Project AIM supports current airport operations but, critically, positions Archerfield to meet short to medium term aeronautical demands.  The main runway 10L/28R is Archerfield’s prime asset and the improvements to its lighting, length, strength and capacity are vital.  The improved lighting and installation of PAPIs and RTILs are particularly important to the airport’s ability to function safety and efficiently in adverse weather. The new lighting has already delivered significant operational and environmental enhancements, lowered maintenance and running costs, and helps position Archerfield to benefit from the post-Covid economic recovery.