Position Paper on Desirability For Abuja Airport Second Runway

7TH APRIL, 2010.
Runways are the most important airport facility coming almost ahead of the control tower and other known ones like the apron, navaids, terminal building, hanger etc. Without the terminal building or tower, aircraft can still land if there is a runway available particularly if on emergency. However, where there is no runway or there is one but if is blocked or declared unserviceable, no aircraft will land and all flights operating into the airport are diverted and the flights operating out of the airport are grounded. 
Generally, runways are built to last not only for specific number of years, but also for specific number of aircraft landings. A runway can be 30 years old but may not have carried enough aircraft landings as would make it old or due for resurfacing. Cracking of the surface of a runway could be as a result of weather or other environmental impact or poor finishing of the runway surface and move after on the number of aircraft landings. In other words we need to establish safety management system and maintenance programmes for our runways.
Runways require safety management system or maintenance programmes that prescribe the frequencies for surface washing and cleaning to remove debris and residuals from aircraft tyres after landings and the frequencies for resurfacing after prescribed period or number of landings.
Generally reasons for a second runway may range from traffic growth to environmental impact, to natural phenomenon such as climatic conditions, constant erosion to the installation of new runway approach aid, any of which could shift the aircraft touchdown area. Touchdown shifting generally reduces available runway length for landing. A second runway may become necessary in this case where the runway cannot be extended any further to any direction due to space. It may also be necessary where a new aircraft with higher performance need to operate to the airport and would require a longer runway than the existing one.
Reason put forward by FAAN Management for a second runway for Abuja Airport are: Aligator Cracks on the Runway and Intensive Traffic Density. While Aligator cracks will require that the Runway be resurfaced like we did to Port Harcourt Runway few years ago, without a second runway, it may also not be the reason for a second runway for Abuja. However, Intensive Traffic Density can be the reason for a second Runway if the traffic density is considered higher than those of similar Airports like Port Harcourt, Accra, Nairobi and Abidjan each of which has one runway.
If we must attend now to the Aligator cracks on the Runway by doing a resurface, must we also commence the construction of the second runway? That will be a calamity because the airport will remain closed for not less than 2 years as was the case at Port-Harcourt where its domestic traffic had to be diverted to Owerri and the International traffic diverted to Lagos. It is pertinent to state here that at that time the second runway in Lagos was undergoing resurfacing. It will be interesting also to know what was the traffic density like at Lagos airport when there was only one runway available?
If we must consider a second runway for Abuja and indeed for any other airport based on cracks on the runway we must ask FAAN Management the followings:
a.      Has any safety management or maintenance programme been designed for Abuja runway and the other airports?
b.      What is the annual traffic density rate for Abuja and other airports in the last 10years?
c.       How many landings was Abuja airport runway designed for before it can become due for resurfacing? Same for other airports.
d.      Has Abuja runway attained that number of landings?
e.      How many resurfacing has been carried out on Abuja runway?
f.        How many landings was the runway designed for before it becomes due for cleaning/washing and what is the frequency for the cleaning? Same for other airports.
g.      How many cleanings has FAAN Management carried out on Abuja Runway and others?
These questions demand sighting documents and records of safety and maintenance management programmes for the airport.
If we must consider a second runway for Abuja and for other airports based on Intensive Traffic Density demand we must answer following questions:
a.      What is the Annual Traffic Density for Abuja and other airports?
b.      What was the growth rate for air traffic in the last 10years and what is the growth rate in the next 5years?
c.       When and where did the consideration for a second runway for Abuja started from? (Sight the documents if the proposal is based on a and b)
d.      The length and width of the Runway must not be less than 4500×45 and the Load Classification Number (LCN) must not be lower than 80
e.      Would the Runway allow for a safe standard Arrival and Departure Procedures for air traffics considering the number of Hills around Abuja Airport if jointly used with existing runway or would it only guarantee SID and STARR if used separately?
f.        Would it be economically safe to build a new airport in the light of the above safety consideration if the air traffic growth supports a new runway? Make a comparative cost.
Cost Implications: we now know that generally, the average cost of building a new turnkey runway elsewhere is between $100million -$150million or =N=15billion – =N=22.5billion for a runway of about 4000metres (4kilometres) length at a rate of =N=3.75billion – 5.625billion/km or =N=3.75million – =N=5.62million/metre. (These cost include runway and taxiways lightings, Runway approach lightings and VASI)
Abuja runway is been planned to cost =N=64billion a rate of =N=16billion/km or =N=16million/metre.
I want to believe also that the Abuja runway cost will include runway and taxiway lightings, approach lighting and VASIS. However, if additional 20-50%   in comparative cost is allowed for a possible variable in runway/taxiway length and tarmac extension for Abuja Airport, I think the Abuja cost which may not include tarmac extension is outrageous.
Wole Shadare