5 May 2022:
Sometimes Project Engineer Josh Van der Meulen is aware of an additional set of eyes on the team at Christchurch International Airport (CIAL).
His father, Ray, is a JetStar Airbus A320 captain, giving him a grandstand view of Fulton Hogan’s various activities at the airport.
“He likes to know what we’re up to, and he gets a pretty good view from where he sits.”
Josh is from a flying family (his older brother is a helicopter pilot for the NZ Air Force), but he likes terra firma.
“I enjoy working at the airport in the construction space. I have been part of some exciting projects over the past two years that encompass a whole raft of disciplines.
“Everything is very black or white in the airport setting and this leads to honest relationships and going above-and-beyond in QA.”
Project Manager Dan Byrne says the airport operation is like a microcosm of Fulton Hogan.
“There’s not much we don’t do here – from milling & paving to electrical, signage, three waters & civil construction.”
Dan has gained a particular appreciation for accurate weather prediction, given short working windows on the runway.“It’s critical we make the right call, otherwise it can be detrimental to the final product, and delays in handing back a runway can mean financial penalties and reputational damage.”
The team’s collaborative relationship with CIAL has grown over the years, and involves regular early contractor engagement and input into constructability, programming and design with CIAL, Airways Corporation and design engineers, AECOM.
Covid has had a bright side, giving the team more time to test new approaches on fast turnaround projects like resurfacing taxiways, runways and concrete hardstands on the apron.
Working with AECOM, the team is experimenting with concrete hard stands as an alternative to asphalt, and testing minimum build times. In April, they laid their second concrete hardstand base for the year – a 420mm to 520mm thick slab with temperature probes to track temperature changes during curing.
This data will be useful for future pours – the CIAL team is already sharing their experience with the Fulton Hogan team at Queenstown Airport.
“We want to know how fast we can hand it back, ready for use,” Josh says. “The airport environment can be very fast paced and construction efficiencies from understanding things like concrete curing times will ultimately benefit the client.”