Chièvres Air Base runway now up to NATO standards
By Mrs. Francisca Spook (IMCOM) May 4, 2017
CHIEVRES, Belgium -- The NATO project to install a new airfield lighting system along the Chièvres Air Base runway has been completed, April 18. This week the Federal Aviation Agency made their final flight checks on the system which is now up to NATO standards.
The 424th Air Base Squadron operating from Chièvres Air Base was using a lighting system dating back to the 1980s.
In case of heavy rain, we frequently had outages because of bad drainage, mentioned Tech. Sgt. Christopher Castillo, from the 424th ABS Airfield Management. The new ditches with manholes where the cables junction, the new lights including the runway and taxi edge lights, the new Distance Remaining Markers (DRM) and the new Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) have upgraded the runway to NATO standards.
In May 2015, the funds for the project to replace the old lighting system were approved by NATO. In July 2016, contractors first started to install a temporary lighting system because operations couldn't stop and the airfield had to remain 100 percent operational.
"The mission never changed and we didn't turn away any aircraft during the works," said Castillo.
When an aircraft was expected, the contractors were given prior notice to move personnel and equipment to a safe area, and the runway had to be swept to make sure no debris remained that could potentially reduce the friction and make the runway slippery and hazardous for any aircraft landing or taking off.
The new lighting system is more reliable compared to the old one and Chièvres Air Base is now up to the same standard as all NATO airfields.
Air traffic controllers also benefit from the new lighting system that can now be easily controlled from the tower.
"The upgrades to the physical lighting equipment on the airfield, combined with the new control tower touch screen control panel improves our airfield lighting capability, which ultimately enhances flight safety." said Master Sgt. Charles Yates, 424th ABS Chief Controller.
The entire project was a true collaboration between the 424th ABS, the Belgian Ministry of Defense (BEMOD), NATO and USAG Benelux Directorate for Public Work.
"This is the first of the multiple capability upgrade projects that we have coming to the airfield," mentioned Capt. Kevin Griffis, 424th ABS Director of Operations.
The future projects that will also be funded by NATO will include a new fire station and a new tower. NATO has handed these projects to the Belgian Ministry of Defense to be contracted out. "At this time, we are working through requirements and refinements with BEMOD, telling them exactly what we want those to look like and what kind of capabilities they need to have," Griffis concluded.
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