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If you happen to be flying to or from Christchurch these holidays – keep an eye out for the specialist Citycare Property airfield grounds team when you are on the runway.
This expert team maintains all the grassed spaces on the Christchurch International Airport (CIAL) campus and that includes the runway edges.
In fact, the runway edges are on a frequent mowing schedule as it’s important for the grass to be kept short.
The team can be spotted driving tractors with their giant Pegasus Tri-Max mowers.
They work very closely with the CIAL airfield team to identify where to mow, Citycare Property CIAL Operations Manager Richard Boxall says.
“The runway mowing only happens when there are no planes. It can be scheduled when the airport is quiet in the middle of the night or early morning and between flight arrivals and departures,” he says.
“When they’re working near the runway, the team is in constant communication with the air traffic control tower to ensure everyone’s safety,” Richard says.
Radio contact with the tower includes instructions for how long the mowers have in between flight arrivals and departures.
To undertake this specialist work in the restricted areas controlled by the tower, the team has a Category 3 airfield licence qualification which takes around six months’ training.
“Their work involves following very precise instructions and knowledge of all areas of the airfield,” Richard says.
“. They closely follow the weather and are aware of the wind direction and consequently know which of Christchurch’s two runways will be used by planes,” he says.
The team are also qualified for vitally important safety officer work controlling worksites for contractors in restricted areas.
This includes supervising maintenance work on the runways and can even involve shortening the runway when necessary, so planes can fly safely over the work site.
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