Last Thursday, the 17th of March, Sendai Airport amazingly opened nearly 5,000 feet of Runway 9/27 that had been washed over and covered in debris from a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake, and ensuing tsunami. The clearing of almost 5,000 feet of runway allowed for military relief flights to begin operating from the airport.
As of today, Sendai Airport appears to have the entire length of Runway 9/27 cleared of mud and debris, leaving 9,842 feet of operational runway for rescue and relief aircraft to operate from.
While Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has yet to have the opportunity to inspect the structural integrity of the runway for commercial aircraft, the runway can handle military aircraft, such as the Lockheed C-130, Boeing C-17, Alenia C-27J and similar aircraft designed to operate from non-conventional runways.
At this time the Japan Self Defense Force air traffic controllers, along with the U.S. Air Force 320th Special Tactics Squadron have Sendai Airport’s control tower operational and the U.S. Air Force 353rd Special Operations Group has begun reestablishing Sendai Airport as a functioning airport.
The logistics issue on the ground at Sendai Airport, for providing humanitarian aid, rescue and relief operations now turns to clearing the taxiways and ramp of debris and mud. Once critical taxiways and ramp space are cleared the airport can provide significantly more support to the region, as an international effort is underway to help those in Japan’s most devastated region.
Hopefully Sendai Airport will be back to Happy Flying shortly.