News From Air Cargo Industry
Volga-Dnepr Commits in Papua New Guinea
No air services without an airport. Experts at the Russian charter operator Volga-Dnepr assisted Papua New Guinea in constructing a new airport - a precondition for airlifting heavy equipment to the hinterlands.
Volga-Dnepr Commits in Papua New Guinea
It’s a remarkable and highly ambitious project but fraught with many obstacles. The objective was to build a gas conditioning plant at Komo in the central part of New Guinea, some 250 km northeast of the capital Port Moresby. The contract as property developer on behalf of Exxon Mobile has been awarded to energy infrastructure focused CB&I, formerly named Chicago Bridge & Iron Company. However, the U.S. firm faced a major problem, since there was no infrastructure at all to exploit and convert the natural gas into usable energy. In light of these unfavorable external circumstances Papua New Guinea’s government launched a tender for planning and setting up the required ground infrastructure to enable the ambitious gas project to become reality.
This all happened six years ago with Volga-Dnepr finally winning the bid. Ever since then experts of the aviation consortium have shaped plans for building an airport in the remote parts of the country and practically advised construction companies on-site how to best turn the blueprint into action. Among other tasks “we helped to determine the optimal location and technical characteristics of the new airport’s runway, which is now the biggest in the country at 3,200 meters in length and 45 meters wide,” states the Russian aviation company with some degree of pride.
Once completed, Volga-Dnepr immediately commenced to fly heavy and large equipment from Port Moresby, where the vessel transported machines and components for the gas plant had been stored, to Komo in the hinterlands of Papua New Guinea. Deployed on this rather short route are large An-124-100 freighters that are able to lift up to 120 tons on each flight. The inaugural flight took place on May 3, with others following since then. Due to the unusual sizes and dimensions of the shipments special loading equipment and trailers had to be developed and also manufactured by Volga-Dnepr for loading and offloading the machinery, thus eliminating the need for the use of cranes. This reduces the time needed to load and offload the cargo, an extremely important aspect of the project. Issues relating to the maintenance of the Antonov aircraft at Port Moresby airport have also been resolved, states Volga-Dnepr. The operational conditions are tricky however. As the cargo carrier notes, flights within Papua New Guinea can be conducted only in daylight hours because of the fast changing climatic and weather conditions, which include heavy rainfall, hostile wind conditions and frequent fog.
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