Davis Aerodrome

Australian Antarctic, Australia

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Completing a comprehensive siting study for a land-based airfield development program for a new airport facility in Antarctica, we’re currently working with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) on delivering an approach to year-round aviation access to the Davis research station.

A project of unprecedented scale and complexity due to the remote location and unique environment, we’ve undertaken aviation planning, aircraft pavement civil engineering, aerodrome building design, and environmental services for the development of a 2700m paved runway – taking the project from initial feasibility to detailed business case submission.

Known for its unique wildlife, brave exploration expeditions and inhospitable conditions, Antarctica is a world treasure and a hub for researchers of all nations. As part of the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan, the ADD is progressing an investigation into expanded aviation connectivity between Hobart, Tasmania and Antarctica.

Beginning the initial study in 2017, we developed several airfield layout options with different runway lengths and supporting facilities based on different aircraft types. Our team of local and global aviation teams, including technical specialists and international subject matter experts, provided aviation infrastructure design, airspace constraints evaluation and guidance on environmental impacts.

Taking account of logistical challenges, as well as the sensitive environment and wildlife, we investigated three site options for the potential new runway, collaborating closely with AAD personnel with experience of the conditions. Having developed multi-criteria assessments for each site, we delivered a single recommended option within a tight timeframe and budget. Once the preferred site was identified, we undertook the feasibility design in conjunction with the AAD.

Visiting the site during the Antarctic summer of 2018, we helped field verify multiple runway airfield siting options and confirm optical landing systems, ground conditions, and aggregate material borrow sources, which consequently helped confirm a preferred airfield option for business case development. We advanced a detailed business case for an airfield development plan with supporting budgetary costings for governmental approvals in 2019. We’re now developing technical aspects related to the construction of a surfaced runway facility for the recommended preferred airfield site.