Mavalane International Airport (after Gago Coutinho Airport, current Maputo International Airport)

Mavalane International Airport (after Gago Coutinho Airport, current Maputo International Airport)

Maputo [Lourenço Marques], Maputo, Mozambique

Equipment and Infrastructures

The first aviation infrastructure built in the then city of lourenço marques (now maputo) dates from 1911. It was a provisional track opened in the Machava land, where the South African pioneer aviator, John Weston, made some demonstration flights on 31 July and 6 August that year.
Only in 1917, after the end of World War I, would a new airfield, with its hangars and support buildings, be built at the top of Matola. There, the "Esquadrilha de Aviação" (Aviation Squadron), composed of military aircraft that had operated in Niassa, in the course of that conflict was based. This squadron remained there until January 30, 1921, when it was extinguished.
A new runway would be opened in the shooting range (Polana) in July 1928. This was installed in the grounds of Delagoa Bay Land Syndicate, near the grounds of the Clube de Golfe (Golf Club) and south of the current Civil Prison (completed only in March 1930). The construction of this runway, of compacted sand, was delivered to Lieutenant Luciano Granate. Apparently, the only existing support structure was an old hangar, which was to be demolished in 1937, having been built another in its place. In October of that year it would be lit with "four projectors, shining its powerful spotlights on the runways." The first aircraft to land there was a Moth "Slotted Wing," commanded by Major Allister Miller, of the African Airways, Ltd company on July 2, 1928. This South African company wanted to extend their business to the entire sub-continent, and was not ruled out the hypothesis of a link with the Mozambican capital. The demonstration flights performed by this airman probably also led to the foundation of local enthusiasts Aero-Club of Mozambique.
After the creation of the international airport deMavalane it was reported that shooting range runway would be closed to the public. Later, it would be transformed into a "tourism and private airfield", under the responsibility of the Clube Aeronáutico Desportivo (Aeronautics Sports Club). There it was also installed the flight school of the Headquarters, under the tutelage of this club. Having undergone refurbishment work, it would be inaugurated on July 7, 1940. It did not survive long after, as the club struggled with financial difficulties.
In late 1935 or beginnings of 1936, the Government of the Union of South Africa and the General Government of Mozambique exchanged views on establishing a regular air routes, on a reciprocal basis. Thus the creation of the Divisão de Exploração dos Transportes Aéreos (DETA) (Division of Air Transport Exploration) on August 26, 1936, to implement the negotiations between the two governments. In its follow-up, it was also delivered to the new airline the construction and maintenance of the airfields in Lourenço Marques, Quelimane and Lumbo, the works were in charge of the Divisões de Exploração dos Caminhos de Ferro (Divisions for the Operation of Railways) or Secções de Via e Obras (Section of Way and Works) [Work Order No. 8 of January 10, 1938]. It's how the new airport of the capital of Mozambique would be installed at the 7 kilometer mark of the line to Marracuene (Mavalane) on 6 April that year.
The new airport would be built on land owned by Ellen Eimett Fragoso, purchased for 250,000$ 00 PTE, being connected to the city by the old road from the crematorium, extending the Avenida de Angola by about two kilometers. Later, the area of the airport would be expanded with the acquisition of new land. If in 1936 the airport area comprised about 1 million m2 in 1957 this area was calculated as 5 million m2, comprising: Runways and paved driveways 314.000m2; Grassy areas relating to safety corridors and between the safety corridors limiting the plate boundary and the aerodrome perimeter 1,730.000 meters 2; Headbands and entrie cones 545,000 metros2; parking concrete platforms, 16.000m2; Blind spot areas of the airfield, 2.880.000m2; Residential areas, hangars, gardens and streets, 90.000m2; Airport Avenue and walkway, 75.000m2.
Until the end of March 1938 it was still in use the old military airfield at the gun range, because the runways of the new one are not yet prepared for the planes to land and take off loaded. But at the end of the day, the planes were parked in Mavalane hangar, to where they came unloaded.
From April that year, all the work was done in the new airport, being only two lanes functional NS and EW, with the remaining two completed three months later.
The terrain of the new airfield was sandy. It was first necessary to clean and level it, and local short grass was sown, which was watered daily. Subsequently, when the grass took root the ground was compacted, first with 2 tons cylinder and then another of five tons.
From 1944 studies began for the construction of reinforced concrete runways at airports in Lourenço Marques, Beira and Tete, with a length of 2,000 meters, width of 60 meters and safety corridors of 150 meters, capable of accommodating four engine planes. However, the works would be executed only after the acquisition of DC-3 aircraft, forcing the extension of all tracks.
In Lourenço Marques, the works were awarded to the company CONSTRUTORA DO TAMEGA, LDª, having been completed in 1954. The main runway was then 2,250 meters long. The runways of the airport would still undergo consolidation work and expansion in 1969, in order to safely accommodate both DETA Boeing's 737, as well as the Boeing 707 of the Transportes Aereos Portugueses (TAP).
The main runway is increased then to 2,700 meters. Right from the start, because the requirements so mandated, it was necessary to install several services: health, customs, immigration and firefighting. The first building, of large dimensions, to be built at the existing airport was a metal hangar, awarded to Sociedade Colonial Ldª, for the amount of £ 23,000 pounds, having been completed in late 1937. A new hangar would be authorized in July 1939, designed to accommodate the new JUNKERS aircraft, as well as the the company's workshops. At the same time, work was already under way lighting the runways, following the exemple seen at airports in Germiston (South Africa) and Bulawayo (Southern Rhodesia).
It was granted the lease of land for 20 years to The Shell Company, there to install underground fuel tanks, office facilities and a garage. New installations of this oil company were to be inaugurated on June 19, 1958.
Since November of 1936 that thought was given to the construction of the new terminal for the international airport. The first project emulated those existing in Durban (South Africa), but its cost, estimated at 6,000 or 7,000 contos (6 or 7 million PTE), received no approval from the General Government of the colony. It was then drafted a new project, "which appeared later as the standard project to major airports", as was the case of Lourenço Marques, Inhambane, Quelimane and Lumbo, but the budget 2,200-2,300 contos was still considered preposterous. Finally, the approved terminal, authored by practicing engineer in the Direcção de Estudos e Construção(Directorate of Studies and Construction), Tito Lívio da Cruz Esteves, fronted by architect Carlos Santos, was budgeted at only 861,500$00 PTE, having been done by direct administration.
This was to be inaugurated on November 17, 1940, during the celebrations of the Double Centenary of the Independence and Restoration of Portugal. The larger requirements of aircraft and the evolution of the services themselves led to the successive expansion of the area occupied and execution of works and installations carried out under the auspices of the Planos de Fomento (Development Plans).
The Plano Geral do Aeroporto de Lourenço Marques (General Plan for the Airport of Lourenço Marques), approved in 1948, structured a set of interventions that took place in two stages: first the extension, paving and lighting of the existing runways, and the construction of new buildings – airplane maintenance, technical services, control tower, communication center, emergency central, radio-aids, fuel related installations, etc.; In a second stage the construction of a new terminal since the existing one could not handle current demands and due to the significance of the airport to the province´s aeronautics. Among the most important works executed, were the control tower, completed in 1958, the workshops of DETA, whose project is by the architects Marcos Miranda Guedes and Octávio Pó (1962/1964), and a cargo terminal (1972).
With the airport endowed with all which was essential to the safety of air navigation, a new terminal was built, inaugurated on June 17, 1963, in commemoration of the arrival in Rio de Janeiro of the plane in which Sacadura Cabral and Gago Coutinho completed the first crossing of the South Atlantic. This terminal, which was demolished in March 2011, was designed between 1958 and 1960 by a team led by architect Candido Palma de Melo and built by the Serviço de Obras da Direcção Geral de Aeronáutica Civil.
The building comprised a compact structure, of one volume, with the length of 210 meters and width of 22.40 meters, serving the left wing for the installation of technical services, the central part to the movement of passengers and the right wing intended to Customs , health, police and customs warehouse. Upstairs was installed a restaurant and a bar. This building found itself at the end of a large avenue and flanked by the other support buildings of the airport. Its cost was estimated at about 14,750 contos. This terminal would still undergo expansion and modernization between 1972 and 1974.
The building that had hitherto served as terminal, after being expanded, was used for the installation of various DETA services.
From the 1970s it was thought to transfer the airport in the Mozambican capital to another location, because it prevented the expansion of the city. Boane and Marracuene regions were identified, but the preference of the technicians leaned to the first location, due to the configuration of the terrain and its consistency.
In February 2006, the company Aeroportos de Moçambique (ADM EP) initiated a project to modernize and expand the air terminal of Maputo. The work performed comprised the construction of a new international passenger terminal, which would be inaugurated on November 12, 2010, a domestic and international cargo terminal and a new control tower, completed in 2009, and finally, a domestic passenger terminal to go into operation in October 2012.

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