EMERALD AIRPORT: An award-winning, Australian first innovative pavement design

GBA Consulting Engineers assisted the Emerald Airport management on the delivery of the Emerald Airport pavement upgrade codenamed 'Project Denison'. Project Denison involved resurfacing the main runway, taxiway, 'Regular Passenger Transport' apron, reconstructing and expanding the 'General Aviation' aprons, and refuelling area,. Emerald Airport is one of the first airports in the country to use stone mastic asphalt (SMA) on a runway. Not only does this Project Denison champion innovation, but it provides Emerald with a leading airport, essential to supporting local communities and economies.


Australian runways are typically surfaced with dense graded asphalt, which requires transverse grooves to be cut across the runway to achieve minimum aircraft skid resistance. Over time, these grooves can close due to aircraft loads. In contrast, SMA achieves the minimum skid resistance without requiring grooving while being more resilient to deformation and rutting, improving durability and reducing whole-of-life costs through reduced maintenance. SMA pavements are found in international airports around the world and now airport passengers will continue to benefit from this world-class sustainable engineering solution.


Project Denison has won several awards, including the 2020 IPWEAQ Excellence Awards for Innovation and AAPA Outstanding Project Award for projects of its size.


In mid-2021, we conducted an annual inspection with Boral and airport management to determine the general condition of the pavement, allowing Boral to plan for any maintenance intervention required during the 5 year warranty period. At year 3 of the warranty period, the SMA is exceeding expectations, with no cracking or distress being observed.



Interested in the specifics and process? Find out more in this IPWEAQ article published in the Engineering for Public Works March 2021 edition by downloading the article below, or viewing online.

Emerald Airport Runway Central Highlands
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Download • 4.79MB

To see more, and find out what our Principal Engineer and Partner PJ Cullivan had to say about the project, please see the videos below.