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Mallorca airport runway upgrade with machine control

First publishedin World Highways
March 2017
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Wirtgen milling machines
Two Wirtgen milling machines operating together were controlled by one system from Leica Geosystems
The latest machine control technology has played an important role in an airport runway upgrade for Malloca.

The Spanish island has long been a major tourist destination and its airport has been struggling to cope with demand, handling around 26 million passengers in 2016. Palma de Mallorca Airport is the third largest airport in Spain and during the peak summer holiday period, the massive influx of tourists makes it one of the busiest airports in Europe.

In November 2016, upgrade work for the airport’s southern runway commenced. The work has been carried out by a consortium called UTE Regeneración Pista Sur, which comprises the contractors MAB Obras Públicas and CONELSAN.

The consortium partners were given a specific task to carry out, correcting the slope of the runway and exchanging the horizontal and vertical runway signals. Because of the specialised nature of the milling job, this portion of the work was subcontracted to Iber Samop, which employed a PaveSmart 3D system from Leica Geosystems on its mobile machines to deliver the necessary finish.

The milling job was carried out by a Wirtgen 200i milling machine, equipped with a PaveSmart 3D solution. In addition, the firm also had a second Wirtgen W2000 with a conventional levelling system. The 3D-controlled height of the first lane was used to provide the height reference for side plate height control of the next lane. The result was a no-slope-error propagation across lanes, while the side plate sensing delivered accurate joint-matching for the asphalt paving phase of the project. This ensured better quality asphalt joints and the set-up proved to be a cost-efficient use of two milling machines, operating with a single machine control solution.

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Leica Geosystems
The equipment was able to carry out the job successfully within the tight time window to deliver the new runway surface
Working in two shifts 24 hours/day, Iber Samop was able to use its equipment package to mill the 3km-long x 60m-wide runway in just seven days. The Leica PaveSmart 3D was used to measure the machine position and adjust the milling depth and cross-slope automatically. The benefit of the 3D milling solution is that it eliminates human error, while also provide a safer work environment and provides an accurate and uniform surface for a new asphalt pavement. In this way it helps to minimise costs of the new asphalt mix and eliminates the copying effect and long waves.

According to Iber Samop, this high rate of productivity could not be achieved without the use of up to date machine control equipment to guide the milling machines and deliver better quality results.

To meet the CS-ADR-DSN regulation covering the runways would have been difficult using conventional methods and systems. Iber Samop pointed out that with a profile milling job, the layer thickness can vary continuously. This can range from 10mm to 50mm just a few seconds later, according to the design. However, the firm said that the required evenness can be achieved by using the latest machine control technology to deliver an automated work process. The manual work process would require a surveyor in front of the machine at all times who would be busy measuring and marking the target milling thickness on the ground. But by using a machine control solution for milling, the human error in the conventional process can be eliminated and also allow for a safer working environment.

The work was carried out during a period of low air traffic volumes for the airport, so as to minimise delays for passengers. And with the runway now upgraded, Mallorca’s airport should be able to handle the 10% increase in passengers anticipated.

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