500 workers rush to restore Tan Son Nhat airstrip

By Huu Khoa   September 2, 2020 | 04:31 pm PT
Hundreds of construction workers are toiling day and night to upgrade a runway at HCMC's Tan Son Nhat International Airport by year end.

Progress on the 25R/07L runway, which had suffered serious damage, has reached 41 percent after two months.
The runway was designed to handle B777-300 ERs, large aircraft used for long-haul flights, and up to 55,100 takeoffs and landings over 10 years. But in less than five years, as of April 2018, there had been a total 126,000 takeoffs and landings.
Since Tan Son Nhat has two parallel runways and with the 25R/07L runway under renovation, aircraft will commence take off on the remaining 25L/07R runway. Authorities have ordered repair work to be conducted safely to not disrupt ongoing airport operations.


The project has a total investment of more than VND2 trillion (over $86 million), including new rapid exit taxiways, parallel taxiways; and upgrade to signal lights, drainage systems, etc. on runway 25R/07L.
Construction is divided into two phases, with the first spanning six months and second, 14. The initial plan is for the upgrade to complete in November, ahead of the Lunar New Year 2021 travel peak.


Workers repair a concrete barrier.
Tran Van Thi, general director of Cuu Long Corporation that manage the maintenance project for the Ministry of Transport, said about 500 workers are divided into 12 groups to work day and night to finish the project on time.


"Outside temperatures are very hot at noon. But everyone is trying their best to complete the project on schedule," said Le Van Khoi, helping to erect a concrete support structure.


Nguyen Van Hao uses burlap bags to cover a recently repaired concrete surface from direct sunlight.
According to the management unit, construction of the concrete surface structure requires temperatures not exceeding 35 degrees Celsius, meaning the job is mainly done at night.


Cao Thi Luong, 45, uses a water hose to cool down and maintain the quality of the new concrete runway.


Thanh Nam moves the concrete cutter to the next section to keep the pace going.


A worker clears old asphalt from the runway, nearly 46 m wide and 3.4 km long, before a 40-cm-thick layer is poured on top.


Flight operators have marked the construction site with an X to alert pilots from a 4.8-km distance, as per International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regulations.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a decrease in the number of flights, which has allowed faster taxiway repair. Airport capacity has dropped by 30-35 percent with only one runway currently in use.


Hoang Van Duong covers his face and wears protective gear to weld iron beams.


"My colleagues and I work hard since this is a key national project. After completion, every time I take a flight back to the city, I will remember the contribution I made into improving the runway," said Toan, 47, from Nghe An Province in north central Vietnam.
Vietnam’s airports have been overloaded for many years, with upgrades tardy. Damage to runways and taxiways, including visible cracks and deformation and subsidence of asphalt concrete surface, has been reported since 2016, though few repairs have been completed.
On June 29, the Tan Son Nhat runway renovation project started at the same time as renovation on the runways at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi.

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