The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has completed a project worth almost £7 million to extend the lifespan of the runways and taxiways at the Mount Pleasant Complex airfield in the Falkland Islands. The project was awarded to Mitie in June 2022, and was undertaken by sub-contractor Gatwick Construction, with work commencing at the end of January.
The project included repainting runway and taxiway markings in reflective paint, replacing airfield signage with new compliant back-lit units, and coating the runway asphalt with a layer of bitumen to extend the life of the treated surfaces.
DIO Project Manager Robert Handford praised the project, saying it was completed two weeks ahead of schedule and within budget. This work has improved the runway infrastructure and extended the life of the runway surface until it can be fully resurfaced in due course, he said.
The work was carefully planned to ensure there was no impact on airfield operations, and flights were able to continue as scheduled throughout. Mount Pleasant Complex is used for airbridge flights to and from the UK, for LATAM flights connecting the Falkland Islands to South America, as well as by the Falkland Island Government Air Service (FIGAS) which connects MPC with the outlying islands of the Falklands.
To minimize disruption, Gatwick Construction liaised closely with MPC staff on a daily basis, and the work was undertaken at night. According to Commodore Jonathan Lett, Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI), the work has improved our safety in the air environment and preserved the runway for operations.
We've completed a nearly £7m upgrade programme to the runway in the Falkland Islands, two weeks early and within budget. Working with @Mitie for @BFSouthAtlantic, we added coating to the runway asphalt, repainted markings, and replaced signage. https://t.co/VMyLXlrKln… pic.twitter.com/YJx9BoZG3l— Defence Infrastructure Organisation (@mod_dio) April 24, 2023
Brian Talbot, Managing Director, Central Government & Defence, Mitie, said that the prompt completion of this project is testament to our strong and long-standing partnership with DIO in the Falklands. Talbot added that the airfield is a critical piece of infrastructure on the RAF Mount Pleasant Complex, and he was proud of their work to refurbish the site's runway, extending its lifespan for years to come.
However, as with many large infrastructure projects in the Falkland Islands, the project presented unique challenges. We had to transport the necessary equipment by air or container ship, which makes the project more complicated than it would be in the UK and means the work has to be even more carefully planned, which must be done well in advance, Handford said.
Despite these challenges, the project was completed successfully and is a significant accomplishment for DIO, Gatwick Construction, and Mitie, demonstrating their commitment to maintaining critical infrastructure in challenging environments.