Legislative Council Panel on Economic Services
Second Runway at theIntroduction
Hong Kong International Airport
The Panel was informed of the present position of the Second Runway project by way of an Information Note issued on 23 November 1998, a copy of which is attached at the Annex. This paper provides members with the latest information on the second runway.
Scope of Work of the Second Runway Project
2. The Second Runway project comprises the construction of the runway itself and associated taxiways, together with the installation of Airfield Ground Light (AGL) system such as runway, approach and taxiway lights. In addition, Instrument Landing Systems are installed at both ends of the runway to provide guidance to aircraft. These physical works are at the final stages of construction and installation is expected to be complete around end 1998.
Operation of the AGL
3. The AGL system is made up of lighting circuits linking up the lights on the airfield with the control stations at the airfield usually known as vaults, a communication network between the vaults and the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Tower, and a computerized workstation at the Tower controlling the switching and intensity of the lights.
4. Since the opening of the airport, there had been several occasions when the First Runway AGL did not respond to the control from the ATC Tower properly. In all cases, the system was switched to manual control from the vaults. At no time was safety compromised, or air traffic affected. Subsequent investigations revealed that there were problems with the communication network between the ATC Tower and the vaults. According to the original design, the communication network between the ATC Tower and the vaults was via the Fixed Communication System (FCS). Besides serving the AGL, the FCS also carries signals from other AA computerized system in a common network.
5. Subsequent to the above incidents, AA and CAD have reviewed the configuration of the Second Runway AGL and agreed that certain enhancement works should be carried out to provide other means of control from the ATC Tower. These enhancements involve putting the control functions of the AGL on a separate dedicated communication network from that used by other AA systems. In addition, a simple backup link between the ATC Tower and the vault, called the Manual Backup Control System (MBCS), will also be installed.
6. In parallel, the enhancement items will also be incorporated into the First Runway AGL.
7. The enhancement works have started on the First Runway AGL. The MBCS for the First Runway is being manufactured and tested. Its installation is expected to be complete in January 1999. After a 28-day reliability test period, it should be ready for commissioning in February. The installation of the MBCS for the Second Runway is expected to be complete in February 1999 and ready for commissioning in March 1999.
8. The works for the dedicated communication network include cable installation, system architecture design, software development, Factory Acceptance Tests, software and hardware installation and commissioning. It is expected that the dedicated communication network for the Second Runway will be ready for the 28-day reliability testing commencing July 1999 and that for the First Runway commencing August 1999.
9. The enhancement works for the First Runway AGL system will not cause any disruption to airport operations as these works will be undertaken during periods where airfield lighting is not required, for example, because no flights have been scheduled or where there is adequate natural light. The timing of the works will be closely co-ordinated between CAD and the AA such that air traffic will not be affected.
Timing for Opening the Second Runway
10. As explained in paras 4 and 5 of the paper at the Annex, the First Runway is expected to be able to provide the airport with sufficient capacity to cater for demand for the coming months. Having reviewed the position, both CAD and AA consider it sensible to implement the enhancements to the Second Runway before it opens to ensure smooth and efficient operation. Taking into account the programme of these works and the need to conduct testing and commissioning, it is estimated that the Second Runway would come into operation around August 1999. Considering the latest air traffic demand and the capacity of the First Runway, such a deferment of the opening date of the Second Runway is not expected to adversely affect air traffic at the airport.
Civil Aviation Department/Airport Authority
8 December 1998
Information Note forIntroduction
the Legislative Council Panel on Economic Services
Second Runway at the
Hong Kong International Airport
There have been press reports about the opening date of the second runway. This paper serves to inform Members of the present position of the project and make a number of clarifications.
Latest Progress of the Second Runway Project
2. The Airport Authority (AA) confirms that the Second Runway was originally programmed to be completed and commissioned around the end of this year. In the light of the experience gained during the operation of the First Runway in the past five months, the AA has decided to make a number of enhancements to the Second Runway Airfield Ground Lighting (AGL) system. These enhancements involve putting the control functions of the AGL on a separate, dedicated communications system. As this involves extension in the scope of works, the Second Runway is now expected to come into operation around mid 1999.
3. The enhancements to the ground lighting are required because there have been incidents when the First Runway AGL did not respond to communications from the Air Traffic Control Tower as quickly as it should. These were due to problems in the Fixed Communications System (FCS) that are being rectified. In the meantime, a back-up arrangement has been put in place. At no time was safety compromised, or air traffic affected.
Implications on Air Traffic
4. There have also been reports about concerns that the airport would be unable to meet peak hour air traffic demand pending the commissioning of the Second Runway. The Authority does not expect the deferment in the opening of the Second Runway to around mid 1999 to adversely affect the air traffic at the airport. The First Runway continues to offer the airport sufficient capacity for the coming months.
5. According to the Civil Aviation Department (CAD), the First Runway of the new airport has a declared capacity of 37 movements per hour, which is much higher than a declared capacity of 31 movements per hour at Kai Tak Airport. As a result of this increase in runway capacity coupled with a drop in traffic of some 20% when compared with the original forecast due to the regional economic downturn, all demands including peak hour demands for the current winter schedule have been met. As regards the coming summer schedule which will start on 28 March 1999, the airlines are finalising their requirements. It is not expected that there will be a sharp increase in demand.
6. The advantage of having two runways is fully recognised by both CAD and the AA. Having examined the position very carefully, they both consider it prudent and sensible to make the enhancements to the Second Runway before it opens to ensure its smooth and efficient operation. All civil engineering works and the main components of the AGL are scheduled to be completed around the end of 1998. Pending the completion of the lighting enhancements, consideration could be given to making available the Second Runway for emergency use where circumstances permit if the First Runway has to be closed for one reason or another.
Airport Authority/Civil Aviation Department
23 November 1998