Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, Cornwall

Since the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose opened in 1947 the operational pavements have been regularly maintained. However, the surface condition was presenting a serious risk for the safe operation of aircraft and helicopters, so we were commissioned to provide a pavement rehabilitation programme.


The role of our pavement and civil design involved the overlay of the three runways and the rehabilitation of the taxiways - either by reconstruction or an overlay and reconstruction of the compass base. It was undertaken in two phases; the first phase included the rehabilitation of the main runway and was undertaken during a scheduled closure of the Base, whilst the second phase was undertaken with the Base fully operational.


Key details

Project name

Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose



Debut Services


Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall


Services provided:

- Civil engineering

- Airport planning

- Pavement design

- Site supervision


Undertaking works during a defined scheduled closure of a Base provides additional design, programme and construction constraints as the Base needs to be fully operational on the hand-over day. This means all risks must be considered and mitigated through effective collaboration with all stakeholders.

Other challenges for the design team included dealing with the unknown condition of the underlying material during the rehabilitation works, especially during the Base closure period. We were faced with the issues of how to develop an economic solution for dealing with tar bound material in the existing construction and how to maintain a live taxiway route during the taxiway rehabilitation phase.

Airport aerial view - RNAs culdrose


To ensure all construction works could be safely completed within the closure of the Base our design team undertook an intense design period and collaborated with the contractor and client’s management team to provide an acceptable design, source local materials and complete the client’s approval process to attain technical sign off for construction to commence. This included regular co-ordination meetings with the client which assisted with informed decision making to ease the design approval process.

For dealing with the unknown condition of the underlying material, our design team utilised experience from previous projects to develop a series of solutions that could be used by the construction team.

As a value engineering exercise, we worked closely with the contractor to develop a sustainable solution by recycling tar-bound material from the excavated pavements into the lower layers of the new taxiway construction. This saved significant off-site disposal costs and improved the CO2 rating of the project.

To maintain the operations, the rehabilitation of the taxiways had to be phased in a manner that ensured a taxi route was maintained from the critical dispersal areas to the runway.


Project statistics

Tonnes of granular material
Tonnes of asphalt
New drainage
Contract value

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