Lights tested tonight

The $1.65 million airfield lighting project at Queenstown Airport will be tested for the first time tonight.

About 200 lights have been installed or repositioned, including precision approach path indicator lights, touchdown approach, runway centreline, runway edge and threshold lights as part of the wider $19.6 million runway infrastructure upgrade, due to be completed by the end of this month.

Airways Queenstown Tower chief controller Clayton Lightfoot said stringent testing and calibration of the lights began last week, with the visual inspection by engineers in a helicopter due to begin tonight, the lights being turned on and off as needed.

‘‘This might look a bit unusual. The helicopter will be buzzing around at various altitudes around the airfield, flying aircraft approach and departure paths repeatedly as our flight inspectors on board check the lights.

‘‘However, rest assured this is part of a robust calibration and testing regime and the manoeuvres are being closely monitored and managed by air traffic control,'' Mr Lightfoot said.

The Civil Aviation Authority would be on site tonight during the flight inspections and ground checks and would give approval for commissioning of the lights, subject to flight tests by airlines and final approval by Queenstown Airport.

Jetstar will be the first airline to fly a scheduled service into the resort after dark - that flight is due to arrive from Melbourne on June 24 at 7.20pm.

Air New Zealand's first night flights are due to arrive a week later, on July 1, the first landing from Auckland at 6.45pm, and another scheduled to land at 9.25pm.

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