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Air Force Base Waterkloof  Upgrading of  Runways, Taxiways, A400M Facilities


The contract for the upgrading of the main runway and critical taxiways at Air Force Base
Waterkloof was awarded by the Department of Public Works on Friday 13 June 2008. The
successful Tenderer, Runway Contractors Joint Venture, consisting of a consortium of Mvela
Phanda Construction, Protech Khuthele and Gerolemou Construction were presented with theappointment letter by the Mr S Malebye, the Chief Operations Officer of the Department. Thiscontract is the first of four projects planned to upgrade the runways and taxiways of Air Force Base Waterkloof as well as the construction of a new A400M Strategic Airlift Facility.


The strategic and national importance of Waterkloof Air Force Base requires the upgrade of
the runways, taxiways and airside facilities at the Air Force Base to international standards
and specifications capable of accommodating future aircraft operations.

Air Force Base Waterkloof represents the largest operational base within Southern Africa. Not only does the Base provide a crucial military role, but in recent years has been utilised as a basis for humanitarian operations as well as the accommodation of “commercial” air traffic. It is also the primary airport landing facility for high ranking international delegates and the home base for the Presidential Arrival and Departure Facility of the South African Air Force.


Designed originally as a fighter and medium sized cargo air force base operating mainly
Hercules C130 as the largest aircraft, Waterkloof Air Force Base currently accommodates
mainly large transport and commercial aircraft. Future traffic include the Airbus A380, the
Airbus A400M (the new transport aircraft of the South African Air Force), the Boeing 747-400
2 and other large bodied heavy aircraft, military and commercial. The upgrade should ensure
continued future operational status at Waterkloof Air Force Base for a period of 30 years.

The redesign of the runways and taxiways was undertaken by the Air Force Base Waterkloof
Consultants Joint Venture, a consortium consisting of Ninham Shand (Pty) Ltd, Africon
International, Ndodana Consulting Engineers and VGI Consult cc. The design ensures that
Waterkloof Air Force Base meets International Civil Aviation Organisation standards, as well
as the Departments stringent guidelines regarding infrastructure provision on dolomite.
Numerous measures have been incorporated into the design to limit possible sinkhole
formation and provide an “early warning system” relating to any soil instabilities within the
vicinity of the runway and critical taxiways. In addition to the civil upgrades the entire runway
lighting system will be upgraded.


The contract shall include an unprecedented Targeted Contract Participation Goal of 70%, far
surpassing the “generally accepted” 30% associated with civil construction projects. In addition to the Contract Participation Goal, the Contract includes the employment and training of labour under the Department’s EPWP-NYS Programme.

Photo Top: Empowerment initiatives underway with workers in the new services tunnel.
Photo Bottom: Dynamic compaction on main runway in process.


Environmental management during construction forms a critical part of the Contract. The
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism approved Environmental Management
Plan, commissioned by the Department of Public Works by independent consultants, shall be implemented throughout the construction at the Base


The Contract consists of two phases. Phase 1 focuses on the upgrade of the main runway
and the installation of the main runway lighting over the first 12 months of the contract. Phase
2 consists of the upgrade and maintenance of the various taxiways and the upgrade of the
drainage system over a 15 month period. The entire Base shall be closed for flight operations
during Phase 1 and the first 3 months of Phase 2. It is anticipated that limited operations of
Presidential and VVIP flights from Waterkloof Air Force Base shall commence within 15


The following statistics are a reflection of the magnitude of construction work on the main
runway and taxiways:
• Mass Earthworks - 950,000 m³
• Asphalt Base and Surfacing - 33,350 m³
• Concrete Raft Foundation - 23,000 m³
• HDPE Piping - 135 km
The construction work includes one of the largest concrete pours on a daily basis on one
structure (± 1300 m³ concrete cast during each 8 hr shift).


Further contracts planned at Waterkloof Air Force Base include the upgrade of the secondary
runway, the finalisation of the runway and taxiway lighting and the construction of the new
Airbus A400M facility. The new Airbus A400M facility shall include the construction of a new
flight lane and hardstands, the construction of appropriate hangars to house eight AIRBUS
A400M aircraft, including a maintenance hangar and wash bay, and new logistics buildings.
The facilities are required prior to the arrival of the South African Air Force A400M aircraft
scheduled for after 2010.

The A400M aircraft


Construction Value of Project 1 = R699 Million Including VAT

Divided into two phases:
• Phase 1 – Main Runway (Runway 0119) = 12 months
• Phase 2 – Taxiways and other airside pavements = 15 months

Construction of raft foundations in progress
Consultant – Waterkloof Air Force Base Consultants Joint Venture consisting of:
• Ninham Shand (Pty) Ltd,
• Africon International,
• Ndodana Consulting Engineers and
• VGI Consult cc
• Key Staff
o Engineer and Contractor Manager – Bruce Morton

Contractor – Runway Contractors Joint Venture consisting of:
• Mvela Phanda Construction (Pty) Ltd
• P Gerolemou Construction (Pty) Ltd
• Protech Khuthele (Pty) Ltd
South African Air Force Project Officer – Lt Col Tommie J Arpin
Scope of works:
1. Rebuilding the Main Runway (Runway 0119) to international standards for operations of current large wide bodied military and commercial aircraft (Boeing, Airbus, etc)

a. Involves the excavation of existing runway to a depth varying between 1 and 2 m below current level

b. Followed by removal of poor quality soils and engineered compaction of dolomite risk areas.

c. In high-risk dolomite area within aircraft landing areas concrete raft foundations are to be constructed to provide adequate support for aircraft.

d. New pavement will be constructed to require strength based on anticipated flight operations

2. All civil services and facilities for planned aircraft operations on Runway 0119 including lighting and drainage.

3. Construction of service tunnels (continuous reinforced concrete structure) under Runway 0119 and main taxiways to provide adequate access to services such as communications, electricity and water.

4. Relocation of all services crossing Runway 0119 and main taxiways through the services tunnels, excluding stormwater drainage and fuel lines.

5. Reconstruction of airside stormwater system to ensure that no stormwater drainage crosses under Runway 0119. Stormwater drainage infrastructure will be constructed exclusively from High Density Poly-Ethylene (HDPE) piping according to the departments dolomitic guidelines and specifications.

6. Runway paint marking.

7. Dolomitic remedial actions required as per the dolomitic risk management procedures including additional investigations as scheduled for Runway 0119.

8. Management and maintenance based contract to be instituted for a 3-year period after construction


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