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As I've seen in this video, they operate flights from Bournemouth airport all the way to Barbados on a Boeing 787-8. As Bournemouth runway length is 2,271 m (7,451 ft), it can handle aircraft such as Boeing 787 fully loaded.

In Kiev Airport (Zhuliany) in Ukraine, runway length is 2,310 m (7,579 ft). But the maximum it could handle is an Airbus A320.

Airport authorities keep telling us that they need more money to extend the runway length. And after that they will be able to handle larger airplanes such as the Airbus A321, but still not as big as the Boeing 787.

Another city is Kherson (Ukraine), the runway is 2,500 m long and can only handle the Airbus A321.

Are the local authorities misleading the passengers? They keep telling us that they need more investment/money. It looks like they are lying to us.

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    $\begingroup$ Anecdote: I once read that they had to reinforce the apron stands at Frankfurt for the then new A380 by digging 6 meters (20 ft) deep and then filling the complete hole with concrete just to allow for her massive weight and prevent her from sinking in. So it's not only the the runway length that matters. $\endgroup$ – PerlDuck Sep 6 at 9:26
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    $\begingroup$ Another factor, at least theoretically, is altitude. $\endgroup$ – Roger Sep 6 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Roger Altitude is a good point that should be included in answers or the question. These three airports are about the same altitude so it's probably better just to include it in the question. $\endgroup$ – Cody P Sep 6 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of "the freeways can handle fully loaded semi-trucks. Why are they wrecking my driveway?" $\endgroup$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 7 at 17:13
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    $\begingroup$ It's always possible that somebody somewhere is (over-)simplifying the situation in good faith. Maybe the airport people said "work on the runway" because they don't want to confuse the council/the press with technical details about concrete and asphalt, and then somebody in the council/the press thought "well, what else is there to change about a runway other than its length", and that's how it got into the newspaper. $\endgroup$ – Ulrich Schwarz Sep 7 at 18:36
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There are a few possible reasons Bournemouth (EGHH) can support a Boeing 787 but Kherson (UKOH) can't. Runway length is definitely not the issue. The runway at EGHH is 2271 metres long, the one at UKOH is 2500 metres long.

The runway at UKOH is slightly narrower, though: 42 metres compared to 46 metres at EGHH. Whether this has operational significance, I do not know.

Another thing to compare is the strength of the pavement, which is expressed as a Pavement Classification Number, or PCN.

The PCN of the runway at EGHH is 46/F/B/X/U, at UKOH it is 28/R/C/X/T. Those values can be decoded like this:

  • EGHH: Load carrying capacity: 46, flexible pavement (typically asphalt), high strength, high tire pressure supported.
  • UKOH: Load carrying capacity 28, rigid pavement (typically concrete), low strength, high tire pressure supported.

This is a bit technical, but what it means, in essence, is that the pavement at UKOH is not nearly as strong as that at EGHH. The 787 has a max takeoff mass of around 230 tons, so it needs some pretty strong pavement to support it.

Finally, the rescue and fire fighting services provided at the two airports is different. EGHH provides up to CAT 9 (capable of handling aircraft up to 76 metres long and 7 metres wide (fuselage width)). UKOH provides only CAT 7 (capable of handling aircraft up to 49 metres long and 5 metres wide.

The 787-8 (the smallest of the 787 variants) is 56,7 metres long and 5,77 metres wide. So most likely, what's keeping Kherson Airport from handling 787's is a big investment in new pavement, and maybe the need to buy a few extra fire trucks.

Then of course, there's also the whole question about capacity of the terminal building, size of gates and various equipment (push back trucks, stairs, jet bridges etc.). Those things are a bit harder to compare directly, though.

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    $\begingroup$ The PCN at UKKK is 46/R/C/X/T, which to my untrained eye seems like it is quite similar to EGHH. Runway dimensions are almost exactly the same. They only offer CAT 7 fire and rescue though, which is not enough. It's quite possible that there are other underlying issues as well, but I don't know. $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Sep 6 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ +1. To add a few points: 1. Bigger airplanes can mean a lot of passengers at the same time boarding/arriving and the terminal must handle that peak of traffic. 2. Some terrain, like sand or mud, can make difficult and expensive to build strong enough foundations. 3. Neighborhood and environmental impact: Sometimes there are regulations demanding low noise level and that can affect types of aircraft can or cannot arrive or depart. Also, regulations can demand a safe distance from your neighbors and in order to add 300ft to the strip, you must first buy houses and relocate people. $\endgroup$ – jean Sep 6 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ Probably you meant "flexible payment" -> "flexible pavement". I tried to suggest an edit, but it needs at least 10 χαρακτήρες :/ $\endgroup$ – gsamaras Sep 6 at 18:09
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    $\begingroup$ Kherson seems to be about 15deg C hotter during summer, that is a substantial difference, translating to more than 1500 ft difference in density altitude. $\endgroup$ – Jpe61 Sep 7 at 10:29
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    $\begingroup$ @jcaron They are listed in the textual aerodrome information in the AIP (AD 2) $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Sep 8 at 7:24

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