Wellington Airport installs sensors for real-time monitoring of runway conditions

The sensors have been installed at Wellington Airport.
The sensors have been installed at Wellington Airport. Photo credit: Newshub / Supplied.

Wellington Airport has become the first in the Southern Hemisphere to install sensors that monitor runway surface conditions. 

The nine fixed sensors can measure temperature as well as moisture and ice on the runway. Data is then transmitted directly back to the airport's new Integrated Operations Centre.

The new technology will mean pilots can more accurately calculate a plane's landing or takeoff performance. The airport is also working to get the information directly to air traffic controllers and pilots. 

Mobile sensors are also mounted on the airport runway's inspection vehicles to allow for spot checks of the condition of specific parts of the runway. 

"Having access to minute-by-minute information about runway conditions enhances air safety and enables collaborative decision-making by providing airport operations, air traffic control and airlines with consistent and up-to-date information," said Lachlan Thurston, Wellington Airport's manager airport performance.

The sensors were developed with MetService, who adapted technology used for their road weather service. 

From November, the International Civil Aviation Organisation will require all airport operators to be able to assess and notify runway conditions using a new methodology. Wellington is one of the first to be able to achieve this through the new technology.