Aviation consultancy services – Sierra Leone
In February 2010, TGP was contracted to undertake a study to advise on the aviation infrastructure required to support the development and on-going operation of an iron ore mine in Sierra Leone. The mine is located some 220 kilometres inland in a mountainous region of Sierra Leone. Because of poor road conditions, surface transportation between the mine and the country’s capital, Freetown, involves a long and hazardous journey. The mine’s development will take four years and will require an on-site expatriate workforce numbering approximately 8,000. How to move this workforce to and from the mine construction site in the most safe, efficient and cost-effective manner was the overall purpose of the study and indeed, the challenge set for TGP.
TGP’s initial step was to evaluate the feasibility of building a suitable airstrip in a safe location close to the mine site. A geomatic survey of potential areas around the mine was commissioned and a profile of the optimum site was duly identified. The optimum site nevertheless presented operational limitations in that the airstrip would have to be restricted in length to 2,500m, with an approach glide slope of 4.5° to avoid high terrain that penetrated the approach path. These limiting factors, together with the elevation of the location and its high ambient temperatures, combined to rule out the possibility of operating any large aircraft capable of flying to the airstrip directly from Europe.
Discussions held by TGP with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Transport and its Aviation Authority further indicated that permission to operate international flights to and from the airstrip would be problematic. Local issues were additionally compounded by the fact that the airstrip and its dependent infrastructure would also need to be developed to stringent International Civil Aviation Organisation regulations before any international aircraft operator could or would operate there.
Consequently, TGP's attention turned to studying the transportation of the workforce to and from the airstrip by air from Lungi International Airport, Freetown. Calculations were made into passenger numbers that would need to be transported each week taking into account shift patterns of the workforce. Additional calculations were made into the maximum possible passenger flow through Lungi International Airport.
After a six week consultancy period, half of which was conducted by TGP’s personnel working in Sierra Leone, a comprehensive study was presented by TGP to its client with a full set of findings and recommendations. Two features of the study were particularly notable. One was that TGP identified substantial cost savings that could be gained when compared to concepts in existence prior to the study being completed; the other was that TGP made innovative suggestions to increase local content and involvement in this vital area of the overall project.