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Sod Turning on 10 May 2019. Left to Right: Federal Member for Maranoa David Littleproud MP, NRA-Co-Lab CEO Noel Robinson, Watpac CEO Martin Monro and Museum Chairman John Vincent

This month, Qantas Founders Museum had planned to celebrate the completion of our Airpark Roof Project with a Community Launch. While the Coronavirus crisis has changed our plans, it does not and should not take away from what has been achieved on this project in a year since the official sod turning.

On 10 May 2019, Qantas Founders Museum excitedly welcomed government officials including the Federal Member for Maranoa David Littleproud, State member for Gregory Lachlan Millar, Local Government and Airpark Roof Project representatives from lead Contractor Watpac, Achitects NRA – Co -Lab, Museum directors and our community, for the official Sod Turning of this $14.3 million project.

While initial work on the project began in April 2019, the Sod Turning marked the official start to the Museum’s biggest project to date – a triumph after years of planning and lobbying.

Artist impression of Airpark Roof

Qantas Founders Museum’s Airpark Roof Project is an ambitious $14.3 million two stage project to create a unique night experience using sound and light show experience which is projected on to the fuselage of the iconic Boeing 747, Boeing 707, Super Constellation aircraft and 8072m2 roof.

Stage One of the Project includes the construction of the roof and once completed will provide weather protection to the Museum’s visitors and aircraft during the day and provide a covered venue for expanded visitor experiences. Stage One is fully funded by the Australian Government as a Community Development Grants Project.

Artist’s impression of Airpark Roof

Stage Two of the project includes a state of the art light and sound show night experience, the only one of its kind in Queensland, and the construction of a nine metre high viewing platform and lift. Stage Two of the project is supported by the Queensland Government.

The Airpark Roof architecture and viewing platform was designed by NRA-Co-Lab architects. The light and sound show was designed and curated by the Buchan Group.

In September 2019, Qantas Founders Museum officially handed over the airpark site, which included the Museum’s Boeing 747 and Boeing 707, to building contractors, Watpac. The Museum also continued to work with the team from the Buchan Group on the sound and light show night experience.

Airpark Roof in April 2020

What a difference a year makes. Today the Airpark Roof stands over the Museum’s Aeroplane Enclosure. This incredible structure, is now the biggest structure in Longreach and can be seen for many kilometres outside of town. Over 12 months, the local community and many visitors have followed and marvelled at the progress of this project and we thank our community for their continued support and interest in this project and our Museum.

Some of the staggering statistics and special moments from this project include:

  • The Airpark Roof covers an area of 8072m2, half as big as the Sydney Cricket Ground
  • In October 2019, after just five weeks work, the last piece of the 400 tonne steel structure was put into place.
  • To move the varying sections of steel from 1 tonne to 14 tonnes, contractors Beenleigh Steel Fabrication, used a 130 tonne crane, a 60 tonne crane, a 25 tonne Franna and 4 boom lifts.
  • The Airpark Roof is 26m high and 108m wide.
  • The roof is made of two sections which are angled to provide maximum height to the structure while keeping beneath the Longreach Airport’s Obstacle Limitation Surface, an imaginary line through which structures located close to airports cannot penetrate.
  • The installation of the Airpark’s Aramax Roof sheeting took 5 months to complete. The ‘W’ shaped profile was rolled on-site from approximately 13km of flat aluminium weighing 24 tonnes which was launched into position to form the roof. Several pieces of sheeting were up to 54 metres in length, with each piece taking an average of two hours to install.
  • In February 2020, two teams were employed to install the sheeting with the first shift working from 6am – 4pm and the second crew from 4pm – 2am. Teams worked in trying conditions including higher summer temperatures, unseasonable winds, flies and insects.
  • A 9m viewing platform with a lift and staircase have also been constructed.
  • All this work was completed with the Museum’s Boeing 747 and 707 in place.
  • In March 2020 the Super Constellation and DC-3 were moved into position beneath the structure.
  • To date over 500m3 of concrete has been poured.
  • Over 800 tonnes of gravel has been laid in the Airpark area.
  • 11,000m of cabling has been installed.
  • A 12m long aluminium spitter was installed to control the flow of water from the roof. The roof is expected to harness over a 1 tonne of water per second during a significant storm event.
Airpark Roof Steel Frame in position October 2019

To see a TIME LAPSE of the work from September 2019 to April 2020 click here.

The Watpac team has enjoyed engaging with the local contractors and where possible has tried to incorporate as many local subcontractors and suppliers from Longreach and the surrounding townships. A project of this size would not be possible without the help of local business due to logistical challenges of the project and Watpac appreciated the help greatly.

It has not all been smooth sailing though. There were some issues such as weather delays – particularly when installing the roof’s Aramax sheeting as Longreach experienced an unseasonable windy Summer.

The structure now stands, almost complete, dominating the landscape and already achieving one of its many goals – to shelter the Museum’s iconic aircraft including the Boeing 747, Boeing 707, Super Constellation and DC-3. With a Jumbo Jet to protect, this structure was always going to be big and now with a roof as a reference, we believe it really demonstrates the size of the Boeing 747.

However, there is more work to complete on the project prior to completion including:

  • Main Airpark Signage
  • Fire Pump and Hydrant flow testing
  • Certifier Inspection
  • Queensland Fire Emergency Services Inspection
  • The installation and testing of the lighting and projector equipment for the night show
  • The installation of the air conditioning to the new lift and
  • Resurfacing of the Carpark and new line marking
Construction workers on site October 2019

Much of this work will now be delayed until the COVID-19 situation improves and travel restrictions are eased.

Airpark Roof April 2020

So until we can again all travel and welcome visitors back to Longreach, we will just wait patiently knowing that the wait will be worthwhile.

Qantas Founders Museum would like to thank all our contractors for all their hard work over the past year but particularly over the last few months with COVID-19 restrictions in place. We would particularly like to thank the contractors working under our building contractor Watpac- some working for long periods away from home for weeks and months at a time.

Once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and this project is completed, we cannot wait to welcome you back to our Museum and show you around. So put us on your travel list or bucket list and we will see you soon!

 

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