Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport

The critical timeline was respected in a planning, design and construction inspection project, so the runway could reopen before the start of inclement weather conditions.


  • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


  • Ottawa International Airport Authority

Project Status

  • Completed in 2014

WSP was appointed by the Ottawa International Airport Authority to provide planning, design, and construction inspection services for the reconstruction of Runway 14-32. The project included rehabilitation of and improvements to all drainage and airfield electrical infrastructure for the runway and associated taxiways.

Complete Rehabilitation Within a Tight Timeframe

Ottawa International Airport Authority took advantage of a needed runway resurfacing project to reconstruct its longest runway, associated entrance and exit taxiways, and to implement many related infrastructure enhancements.
The project included:

  • full-depth reconstruction of 3,048 metre x 60 metre Runway 14-32 and six associated taxiways;
  • realignment of taxiways to improve operational efficiency and reduce runway occupancy time;
  • replacement of the existing deteriorated drainage and airfield electrical infrastructure; 
  • safety-related infrastructure enhancements, including runway end safety areas (RESA) to reduce the risk of damage to aircraft overrunning or undershooting the runway;
  • a profile reconstruction of the runway to improve drainage and reduce the risk of water accumulation on the runway;
  • chamfering of structures within the runway graded area to reduce the risk of damage to aircraft; and
  • installation of new navigational aids to provide additional visual guidance to aircraft.

Timely completion of the project was essential to ensure the airport’s longest runway was back in service before inclement weather conditions commenced. This fast-paced, four-month, CAD 30 million construction project was completed on-budget and on-time to our client’s full satisfaction.

With the client’s support, the project was nominated for both Ontario and Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards for 2014.

At its peak, the project employed over 200 construction workers on-site and involved over 85,000 tonnes of asphalt placement, 21 kilometres of electrical cabling, and 10,000 gallons of paint.


Runway 14-32 length
3,048 m 3,048 m
6 6
Tonnes of asphalt placement
85,000 85,000

Close Collaboration is Key

WSP worked closely with the client and construction contractor to anticipate and address issues that may arise resulting in timely and on-budget completion of the project.

We researched and developed design solutions that could be quickly implemented while maintaining infrastructure quality and longevity. Examples include:

  • Modifying construction specifications to incorporate locally available material while meeting stringent airfield pavement friction requirements;
  • Designing runway pavements for grooving and resistance to heavy slow moving aircraft loads;
  • Undertaking aircraft movement simulation to optimize the taxiway's geometry;
  • Researching and implementing international airport design best practices related to runway end safety areas and underground chamfering;
  • Assessing the airport’s maintenance requirements and site characteristics to specifically address aeronautical lighting installation details;
  • Determining the optimum width of runway shoulders taking maintenance and operational needs into consideration;
  • Incorporating principles of sustainability to reduce project costs (e.g., recycling existing pavements, reuse of excavated materials); and
  • Implementing best practices for runway pavement markings to improve durability and visibility to aircraft.

Our team was responsible of the design as well as resident and non-resident construction inspection services included the elements listed below

  • Reconstruction of 3,050m x 60m runway 14-32 including new 4.5m wide shoulders; blast pads; RESA;
  • Reconstruction of Taxiways K, C, J, E; realignment of Taxiway D and L; modifications to bio-treatment system;
  • Storm sewer replacements; improvements to emergency roads and the Glidepath 32 access road;
  • Runway and taxiway edge lighting improvements; new and replacement PAPI for Runways 07-25 and 14-32;
  • New windsocks; Runway 32 SSALR improvements; glidepath feeder replacement; intersection holding position sign replacement;  REILS; removal of abandoned electrical utility vaults; and
  • New /pavement line markings, including new surface painted runway designation markings; removal of an existing airfield cable arrestor foundations; chamfering of underground structures.

Ready on Time and Fully Compliant

The newly reconstructed Runway 14-32 and associated improvements not only meet Transport Canada’s (TC’s) mandatory requirements but also conform to, or exceed, more stringent standards and recommendations set out by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the United States Federal Aviation Administration. Installation of 150m x 300m RESA, chamfering structures within the runway graded area, harmonized precision approach path indicator (PAPI) installations, variable brightness runway end identifier lights (REIL) are examples of project elements that exceed current TC requirements, ensuring the final product is a safe, efficient and modern runway

The project was completed on time and within budget. The runway was back in service on September 30, 2014, ahead of inclement weather, as planned.