Saints look to weather-data gathering on southern approach of hazardous St Helena Airport

2016-10-18 10:20 - Ra-ees Moerat
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Cape Town - No more developments are planned for the ST Helena Airport - but with a ship visit as the now intended fate, some of us aren't too phased.

However, the island is still looking to gather weather-data to see what possibilities exist to make the airport viable.

The St Helena Government spokesperson Ian Jones says, “Construction of the Airport is complete and no major, additional or future works are currently planned."

“The issue of wind shear currently means that St Helena Airport does not yet have a regular commercial air service, but the Airport is operational with about a dozen commercial flights and three important medevac flights so far operating into it.  

These commercial flights are all chartered aircraft operating either for Basil Read (BR), the South African company which constructed and operates the Airport), rotating BR staff or flights bringing in technical experts to certify the airport and install and maintain equipment, Jones says. 

So while the airport is continuously working towards alleviating the challenges of severe wind, in order to succeed in this multi-faceted work will have to be done and it is expected to take some time. Some of the measures taken to combat this, is physical design and modelling of the aircraft, as well as implementing improved technology.

Jones also says the airport now has more than seven months of weather data in terms of the northern and southern approach, plus reports of the experience of each of the flights that have so far operated various approaches into the airport - all of whichh is said to be building up a body of evidence for potential operators.

"We have also installed more specialised equipment at the runway to monitor weather conditions and are employing computer and physical modelling to build a stronger picture of the conditions under which we will be asking aircraft to operate," with the southern approach to the runway seen as a possible solution.

Testing the theory a landing is planed for Friday 21 October, but final confirmation is still awaited on whether the plane will touch base or not. The aircraft is planning to fly to Wideawake Airport, Ascension Island, followed by a call at St Helena Airport.

From St Helena, the aircraft will then make additional technical stops at Brazil and Uruguay, and then finally arriving at Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport, Chile, which is the final destination.

A photo posted by flyswiss (@flyswiss) on

The Avro RJ100 will essentially be the largest aircraft to service St Helena Airport, since it received its Air Safety Support International certificate in May this year - if things go according to plan, with more real time data and a pilot’s report adding to a more comprehensive picture of conditions at St Helena Airport.

On this specific journey, the aircraft will be carrying approximately 16 non-commercial passengers, including the flight crew. The predicted time of arrival at St Helena airport is planned to be at around 15:45. 

Jones also confirmed  the extension of the service provided by the RMS St Helena ship for St Helenians.

"The current Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena has been serving the Island for 26 years, bringing passengers and cargo roughly once every three weeks.  She operates on a cycle between Cape Town, St Helena and Ascension Island."

The RMS on a visit to London earlier this year -   Source: St Helena Government

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