HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The Hill Air Force Base runway is undergoing construction, getting much needed repairs in a three-phase, $43.6 million project.
Paul Waite, project officer with the 75th Civil Engineer Group, said the primary reason for the project is to renew aging infrastructure and improve pilot safety. He said the runway’s degrading asphalt was dramatically increasing debris, which has the potential to cause serious damage if sucked into an aircraft engine.
“Runways typically last 10-15 years and this one was built in 2005, so it was time for it to be replaced,” Waite said. “A brand new runway surface, built to correct standards, will be a major boost to pilot safety and will help protect our assets.”
In addition to complete asphalt pavement rehabilitation and reconstruction, the 13,500-foot runway will get concrete pavement repairs, wider shoulders, a widening to the south end of the runway taxiway by 55 feet, new overruns, new airfield signs, and new electrical wiring and airfield lighting.
The north 4,000 feet of the runway is closed for the first construction phase, which started in February. Due to the shortened runway, aircraft taking off to the south are starting their takeoff roll nearly a mile later than normal. Residents of neighboring communities may notice an increase in aircraft noise during this phase.
“When we take off to the south like normal, we are lower and slower, meaning louder, at the end of the runway,” said Col. Daniel Gable, F-35A pilot and 419th Fighter Wing vice commander. “Once we climb to our set altitude, noise levels return to normal over Layton and Clearfield.”
Gable said although there’s a change in flight operations near the base because of the construction, pilot safety and meeting Federal Aviation Administration and Air Force requirements is always the wing’s priority.
The construction is also driving a landing-pattern change for night flying operations. Aircraft landing after dark will now approach Hill from the south to land. Residents as far south as Salt Lake City and Bountiful may hear aircraft noise during night operations.
Phase two of the project will begin June 1, when the entire runway will close. Flying squadrons from the 388th Fighter Wing will not cease operations, but will temporarily be flying out of other locations.
One additional aspect of the construction project is 75th CEG is cooperating with the Army Corps of Engineers Engineering Research and Development Center on numerous sensors in one section of the runway to capture pavement stress data.
The data retrieved for numerous types of aircraft that take off and land at Hill will help them modernize and update the design software used for runway and airfield pavement design. This data will also be shared with the FAA to improve runway asphalt pavement design at both military and civilian airfields across the country.