Team Dover’s dual runway returns to operations

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Aaron J. Jenne
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Dover AFB’s Runway 14-32 reopened Aug. 16, 2017, after several months of closure necessary for construction.

This marks the completion of the latest phase of the runway renovation intended to extend its lifespan an additional 50 to 75 years.

“This is an important milestone in the runway construction project,” said Maj. Jeff Henderson, 436th Operations Squadron director of operations. “For the first time in more than a year, Dover [AFB] has a dual runway. This has been a long project, but we’re finally fully operational again.”

While the installation’s C-5M Super Galaxy fleet was temporarily relocated to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, for eight months during 2016 for major construction on Runway 01-19, the latest construction phases have been much less taxing on Dover AFB’s mission. The current phase repaired damage around the intersection of the dual runways.

For more than a year, air operations have been limited to the use of a single runway, which impacted training and operational missions, Henderson said. The availability of a dual runway greatly reduces the impact of weather on takeoff and landing, builds additional redundancy to operations and minimizes operational risks.

“If there was an aircraft incident while we only had one operational runway, then that could have potentially taken out our sole runway for an unknown period of time,” Henderson said. “A dual runway also gives more options to aircraft taking off or landing with wind, especially with small aircraft, which have lower crosswind limitations. With both runways open, we’re better prepared to accept all the traffic that comes through Dover AFB.”

Another accomplishment of the latest construction was the integration of both standard instrument lighting and tactical covert lighting built into the runway.

Prior to this integration, night vision goggle assault training required mobile lighting to be set up along the runway. This lighting would then need to be torn down before operational missions could resume; all such missions would have to be diverted or delayed. The old equipment also did not support C-5 NVG assault training.

With the new integrated lighting system, however, controllers will be able to quickly switch from standard lighting to tactical covert lighting, accommodating both operational and training missions in close succession and without hindering either mission. In fact, one aircrew could complete two sorties back-to-back; one NVG assault and one operational. This improves the flexibility for the 436th Operations Group, allows for more diverse training for both C-17 and C-5 aircrews and greatly reduces the manpower and time required for such training.

“We have so much more flexibility to conduct our training alongside the operations that are continuing,” Henderson said. “We can seamlessly switch between all of our lighting options, which gives our aircrews and air traffic controllers a lot more practical training. And, this is all while continuing aerial port operations and sending and receiving aircraft.”

While the dual runway is now fully operational, construction is not yet complete, Henderson added. Runway 01-19 will temporarily close later this summer for winter-proofing procedures. Construction is slated for completion by the end of 2017, ending the $102 million construction project.

“Team Dover is excited to have Runway 14-32 operational again marking the first time in over two years that Dover AFB is operating with its full complement of runways,” said Col. Ethan Griffin, 436th Airlift Wing commander. “This project relied on the hard work, attention to detail and ingenuity of the entire Dover community. The partnerships between the 436th OSS, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron, Air Force Civil Engineer Center and our contract partners helped us overcome a myriad of challenges.

“The 436th Mission Support, Maintenance, Medical and Operations Groups came together to ensure that our C-17 and Air Force Mortuary operations continued unhindered while undertaking the transfer of our C-5M operations to JB-MDL,” Griffin continued. “This project and Team Dover’s ability to meet its challenges mark a milestone for our base and community. Thank you again to all our Airmen and Mission Partners who made this project a Team Dover Win! Aim High – Dover Pride!”