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St Helena's airport opening delayed indefinitely because of wind conditions

Friday, June 10th 2016 - 08:02 UTC
Full article 10 comments

The opening of an airport on the British overseas territory of St Helena has been delayed indefinitely due to safety fears - amid warnings the cost to the UK government could increase. The £285m airport is being paid for by the Department for International Development and was due to open in May. Read full article


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  • Voice

    Did no one check to see if it was too windy to build an airport there...
    ...they built an airport...

    Jun 10th, 2016 - 09:31 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Conqueror

    @1. Can you locate the runway on Ascension Island? You must know it. The Americans call it Wideawake and the RAF calls it RAF Ascension Island. It was used quite extensively through the Falklands War. Commercial airliners and RAF transport aircraft also use it.

    So I expect that St Helena airport just needs a few tweaks.

    Jun 10th, 2016 - 11:09 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Islander1

    Correction Mercopress- the RMS St Helena WILL return to service after current voyage - her disposal has been delayed until at least early 2017 because of the airport situation.
    2- The problem is the runway is on top of cliffs -around a clifftop island area- quite normal apparently for such winds in these geographic circumstances in certain wind directions - just that nobody in an office in London thought harder at it in the first place.

    Jun 10th, 2016 - 11:22 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Voice

    Oh well...not safe enough for commercial passengers....
    Best use it for military purposes instead...
    Hey wait a minute...

    Jun 10th, 2016 - 12:12 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Conqueror

    @4. Commercial passengers, e.g. argies and argie slobberers, need especial care. The number of airline pilots that have expressed a willingness to crash argies and argie slobberers into the ocean!

    Jun 10th, 2016 - 05:31 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Clyde15

    The runway is situated in an approx SW-NE (02/200). The prevailing wind is mostly between SSW and ESE. The ESE component means that a wind coming from this direction is nearly at right angles to the runway. An aircraft coming in to land would have to crab in and straighten up parallel with the runway just before touchdown. An extremely dodgy maneuver. With wind shear added to this, it would be a no-go situation..
    It may be that the air service will have to be dependent on accurate weather forecasts.

    Jun 10th, 2016 - 08:18 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Frank

    Oh Deary Deary Me,
    St Helena lies in the South East Trades..... thats why sailing ships used to call there on their way from the Cape northwards.

    Somebody has really screwed up on this one......

    Jun 11th, 2016 - 01:24 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Clyde15

    The choice of aircraft also matters. The 737-800 has a higher landing speed than it's predecessors and can be as high as 170 mph depending on landing weight and flap settings. If you have to land with a tail wind of say 30 mph then this means it's ground speed is 200 mph ! It takes a long runway to bleed off the speed ! Longer than that available on St.Helena. However there are other aircraft which land at much lesser speeds, maybe they will provide the solution.

    Jun 11th, 2016 - 09:24 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Alejo

    The St Helena authorities have clarified that only ONE runway may be unsuitable from time to time but the second runway has no restrictions.

    Jun 13th, 2016 - 04:58 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Clyde15

    They actually have only ONE runway but it can be used from either end depending on wind conditions. The difficult approach is the one that comes in over the cliffs which may encounter wind shear. The other end does not have this problem but depending on the wind, it may give a tail wind to the landing aircraft which increases it's landing speed. For the 737-800 this would increase it's landing speed and stopping distance to an unacceptable level.
    Just before touchdown, the pilot will “flare” the aircraft by lifting up it's nose to increase lift and decrease speed. The greater the angle of “flare”- (actually angle of attack) the more speed is lost while maintaining lift. Some older aircraft can come in at a high angle of attack but I understand that this is not possible in the 737-800. Because of the increased body length, there is a likelihood that the rear fuselage will contact the runway if the angle of flair is too high.
    I think that this is part of the problem using the St.Helena runway in windy conditions for this aircraft.

    Jun 13th, 2016 - 08:39 pm - Link - Report abuse 0

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