Photo courtesy Vancouver Airport Authority
A digger removed a chunk of Vancouver International Airport’s asphalt to allow assembled dignitaries, representatives from all levels of government, and workers to dig a symbolic shovelful of soil to mark the airport authority’s start of 75 major projects worth $9.1 billion in improvements over 20 years.
The June 14 symbolic ground breaking represents the area where the new parkade and central utilities building will be, there will also be new outposts for getting to and from a plane with an electric bus that allows for level entry and exits. The panoply of improvements include additional gates for wide body airplanes on the international side of the airport; additions to the international departures area with new art work, features and food options; a new Central Utilities Building that will consolidate YVR’s entire heating, cooling and backup electrical system; a GeoExchange heating and cooling system, one of the largest in Canada so the airport is on track for their 33 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, parking will be tweaked in major and minor ways to make the process smoother and more convenient for travellers.
Also among the long list of projects at YVR, is safety improvements. Some of them, quite costly but unseen and unappreciated by the travelling public, until an ultra-rare disaster strikes.
We’ve all seen footage of the events so uncommon they make international news, when a plane ends up off the end of a runway.
Recognizing the time to plan for a problem, even one that is very unlikely, is well-before it ever happens, the airport authority has begun to add Runway End Safety Areas. According to YVR, these extra bits on the ends of the runways, designed to hold the weight of a fully-loaded aircraft, allows a safer place for a plane that lands too soon, before the runway actually begins, or aircraft that doesn’t stop before the end of the runway. Should this ever happen, the addition of Runway End Safety Areas will mean lives saved, injuries prevented and airplanes left intact.
YVR notes in their press release that the airport started their project for safer areas at the ends of runways three years ago in anticipation of new Canadian standards. When all finished, each major runway will have 300 safety metres added, double the proposed Canadian standard.
CEO and president of the Vancouver Airport Authority, Craig Richmond said that as a not-for-profit entity, all of YVR’s improvements come from within the airport itself and none will be funded by tax dollars.
“We are experiencing record growth at YVR as we deliver on our mission to connect British Columbia proudly to the world and these ambitious expansion projects will further position YVR as a world-class connecting hub. As we build the airport of the future, our focus is to move people and goods efficiently, while continuing to delight people with a wide range of offerings, amenities and outstanding customer service,” says Richmond.
Already a major employer in the region, the first phase of improvements will see 2,500 construction jobs created by the end of the year, according to CEO Richmond.
For more information, along with up-to-date construction updates, click here.