British Overseas Territory St Helena is closer to the official opening of its airport following a series of calibration flights by the first aircraft to successfully land and takeoff from the mid Atlantic island.
While the data collected is to feed the calibration report, work has continued on certification of the airport with a number of exercises planned for this month and November.
In effect the Beechcraft King Air 200 aircraft departed St Helena at 6.10am on Friday, 25 September 2015, having completed a series of calibration flights. On board were the teams from TAB Charters - Grant Brighton, Dillan Van Niekerk and Jeffrey McKenzie - and from Flight Calibration Services Ltd (FCSL), Nick Whitehouse and Stuart Rawlinson.
FCSL is currently in the process of collating and analyzing the information gathered during the flights in order to prepare its final report. This report will then inform any further work that might be required on the NavAids.
Basil Read Island Director, Deon de Jager said: “We fully expect to have to undertake some corrective action. This is normal after any calibration procedure and is, of course, the reason we had the calibration flights in the first place - so that we can make sure that the NavAids are functioning properly. We will not know the extent of the work required until we receive FCSL’s final report and are able to discuss this with our design teams.”
Alongside this, work is continuing to prepare for certification of the Airport. Training has commenced, including training for security personnel at the Airport, and Basil Read is planning a number of exercises to take place in October and November. Emergency exercises are also planned, which will involve personnel at the Airport and also from the local emergency services who would respond in the event of a major incident. Further Airport Operational Trials will be ongoing in readiness for the Airport opening.
Penspen, the fuel management contractor, is also busy planning for deliveries of Jet A1 fuel so that there is a stock of fuel on-Island in readiness for Airport operations.
Meanwhile Comair, the company that is expected to link the island with South Africa, is actively planning for its Implementation Flight to St Helena, when it will bring a Boeing 737-800 to the Island at least one month in advance of Airport operations. This visit by the Comair team will be used to test all aspects of the operations at St Helena Airport.
SHG Airport Project Director, Janet Lawrence commented: “There are a number of different organizations with a role to play in delivering an operational airport and there is a still lot to be done. We have really good teams in place in Basil Read, Halcrow, SHG, Penspen and Comair (to name but a few of the organizations involved) and there is an immense amount of work taking place in the background. We can finally see the various strands beginning to come together - with a view to commencing Airport operations in late February 2016.”
Following the successful first ever landing of a fixed wing aircraft at St Helena’s new Airport, one common question has been “How do I buy a ticket to fly to St Helena?”
SHG Airport Project Director, Janet Lawrence, said: “Any passenger buying an airline ticket to a destination expects to arrive at an operational airport. At this stage, St Helena Airport is still under development. We will only be able to confirm that commercial operations can commence once we have been through the certification process. In fairness to passengers wishing to travel to St Helena, Comair will not release tickets for sale until we are far more advanced in the certification process.”
The next step in certification is an audit planned for November, which could be followed by further audits. In the meantime, persons interested in flying to St Helena can contact Comair’s queries mailbox via firstname.lastname@example.org.