Innovative runway grooving shape a first for QLD

There’s a new groove happening on the new runway at the Sunshine Coast Airport and it isn’t the next TikTok sensation or the dance your uncle does at every family wedding.

In a Queensland first, Sunshine Coast Council’s Airport Expansion Project has implemented a new method of runway grooving—called trapezoidal grooving which refers to the four-sided shape of the grooves.

Since early April, a team of groovers, yes that’s right – groovers, has been cutting exactly 49,214 trapezoidal-shaped grooves into the 2.45 kilometre stretch of runway using a specialised piece of machinery. Adding grooves to the runway is one of the final steps of construction.

As the name suggests, grooving is the process used to cut small grooves into the asphalt surface of the runway. The grooves allow water to drain during wet weather improving friction as aircraft come in to land at approximately 200km/h.

A laser guided system cuts grooves in 1.43 metre-wide sections. It takes four people to operate the machine and its supporting equipment.

Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project Director Ross Ullman said the Sunshine Coast’s new runway was the third runway in Australia, and the first in Queensland, to use the trapezoidal grooving method.

“Trapezoidal-shaped grooves provide a better outcome than the historically used square-shaped grooving, because they minimise the problem of groove closure and are largely self-cleaning,” Mr Ullman said.

“There is only one trapezoidal grooving machine in Australia and we are extremely excited to have it operating on our runway.”

Mr Ullman said the machine came to the Sunshine Coast from Uluru Airport just before Queensland’s borders were closed.

The grooving machine will cut its final section of the runway tomorrow (May 7), weather permitting, marking another important milestone for the Airport Expansion Project.

Division 8 Councillor Jason O’Pray said construction of the new runway remained on track.

“Council will hand the runway to Sunshine Coast Airport on June 13, 2020,” Cr O’Pray said.

“The remainder of the airport expansion project will be completed by the end of 2020.

“The runway is longer, wider and better aligned with prevailing winds and able to accommodate larger, more fuel efficient aircraft,” he said.

Benefits to our region:

  • The new runway will provide direct access for our region to the world
  • 2230 new full-time jobs by 2040 (direct and indirect)
  • Potential to attract over 2,000,000 passengers annually
  • Helps boost tourism and export opportunities
  • Potential to reach new destinations
  • $4.1 billion contribution to Gross Regional Product (2020-2040).

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