Wellington Airport first in southern hemisphere to install real-time runway monitoring system

13 Feb 2020

Wellington Airport can now access real-time data about runway conditions after installing state of the art sensors to monitor runway surface conditions.

The nine fixed sensors automatically measure temperature, moisture or ice on the runway surface and transmit the data directly to the airport’s new Integrated Operations Centre. The airport is working with industry stakeholders to enable the information to be sent directly to air traffic control and pilots.

The technology will enable pilots to more accurately calculate the aircraft’s landing or takeoff performance.

The sensors were installed by Wellington Airport in conjunction with MetService, who developed the new technology by adapting proven sensor and display technology from their road weather service.

“Having access to minute by minute information about runway conditions enhances air safety and enables collaborative decision-making by providing airport operations, air traffic control and airlines with consistent and up to date information,” says Lachlan Thurston, Wellington Airport’s Manager Airport Performance.

“We’re pleased to be one of the first airports in the world to have implemented this new and valuable technology in partnership with MetService.”

Ray Thorpe, MetService’s GM of Aviation Business said, “MetService is proud to have partnered with Wellington Airport to deliver a solution that enhances safety, while providing critical real-time information to airport operations.”

In addition to the embedded runway sensors, mobile sensors mounted on the airport’s runway inspection vehicles can be used to conduct spot checks of conditions on any part of the runway, taxiways or aprons.

From November 2020, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) requires all airport operators to be able to assess and notify runway conditions using a new standardised methodology. Wellington is one of the first to have achieved this, particularly using technology to automate the process. The NZ Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is currently working with other New Zealand Airports on the introduction of the new standard.