New asphalt at Finkenwerder is replaced after stones damage several aircraft during heavy braking tests
Airbus has been forced to resurface the runway at its Hamburg Finkenwerder plant twice in as many months after new asphalt caused damage to aircraft.
The runway's 30-year-old surface was replaced in August as part of improvements and an extension built to enable it to handle the A380. Although the asphalt was specified to "international airport standards", the manufacturer says there were problems with grit and stones damaging aircraft paintwork during braking with reverse thrust.
After several attempts to "attach the grit" failed, such as applying a liquid chemical, the runway was closed for four days last week to replace the asphalt with a "smooth surface", says Airbus. Meanwhile, delivery of three Airbuses was undertaken from Hamburg's international airport.
The plant is responsible for assembly and delivery of all Airbus single-aisle models except the A320, and the runway is used for test and evaluation flights, as well as positioning of Toulouse-built A320s for completion.
The runway also handles operations of Airbus's A300-600ST Beluga transports and employee shuttle flights.
Airbus says that the problem arose because the airfield does not handle the same high volume of traffic as a major airport, where rubber laid down by aircraft helps bed in the top surface. The problem was exacerbated due to the fact that a large proportion of Finkenwerder movements are test flights requiring full braking and reverse thrust to evaluate rejected take-offs (RTOs).
Airbus confirms that several aircraft were damaged during RTO tests and eventually all landings had to be carried out without reverse thrust. Flight International understands up to seven aircraft received varying levels of damage, which has had an impact on some deliveries.
MAX KINGSLEY-JONES / LONDON
Source: Flight International