Goose Bay Struggling To Take Emergencies After Cracks Appear In Runways

Goose Bay Airport in Labrador, Canada, has stopped large planes such as Boeing 747s and 777s from landing to refuel, because of the crumbling condition of its runways.

Goose Bay Airport, Labrador, Canada.
Goose Bay Airport, Labrador, Canada. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Reports and photography this week by Jacob Barker of CBC News show the condition of the airport’s runways is deteriorating, and there are cracks in the runway tarmac.

Large commercial jets can only land in an emergency

Large planes, like Boeing’s aircraft, occasionally stop at the airport to refuel on journeys across the Atlantic. They are now restricted and need to “look elsewhere”, according to the report. Smaller planes which operate regular flights to and from Labrador, like Dash 8s and Twin Otters, are not affected by restrictions.

Goose Bay is operated as an Air Force base, CFB Goose Bay, by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). As well as this, it serves as a civilian airport, Goose Bay Airport, serving around 95,000 passengers per year.

Air base commander, Lt. Col. Stephane Racle, did confirm that any plane can land on either of the airport’s two runways in an emergency. Racle, according to Barker and CBC News, says:

“All airfields need ongoing maintenance so deterioration is to be expected, but given our conditions here in Labrador, it’s been faster than we expected.”

He adds:

“We’ve imposed some restrictions to ensure some aircraft that could cause some damage to the runway don’t land.”

Goose Bay Airport runways are checked multiple times per day

The airport is currently being challenged by warming spring temperatures and seasonal thawing. This can contribute to the deterioration of the airfield. Goose Bay is concerned about runway surfaces, where some sealant is coming loose along with the cracking. And it is also concerned about the underlying concrete. Racle says:

“We must be very vigilant and we ensure that we look at the condition of the airfield on a regular basis, multiple times a day, to ensure that we catch any loose debris that could cause problems.”

The imposed restrictions are currently in place until mid-August 2019. Racle explained the Department of Defence is planning to make the airport safe for larger planes:

“That’s going to come in the future but it’s, again, looking at the viability of ensuring that we can safely operate out of Goose Bay.”

A Norwegian Air jet grounded at Goose Bay will leave when fixed

A Norwegian Air Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is currently sitting at Goose Bay Airport awaiting repairs after diverting from its Copenhagen, Denmark, to Orlando, USA, route on May 13th with engine trouble. It will be allowed to take off once it is airworthy. AeroInside reported at the time that a replacement jet was sent to Goose Bay to collect passengers. They were then able to continue to their Orlando destination.

Unlucky Norwegian
For the time being, Norwegian’s fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are grounded. Photo: Norwegian

In March, Simple Flying detailed some of the issues Norwegian Air was having with grounded Boeing aircraft, including its fleet of 737 MAX. A number of Norwegian’s Boeing 787s were also grounded in 2018 after problems with their Trent 1000 engines.