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Pavement structure - Articles and news items
Issue 5 2010 / 1 October 2010 /
Fiumicino is the ‘hub’ airport for domestic, international, and intercontinental scheduled and charter flights. Ciampino, conversely, is the airport city dedicated to the low cost traffic, goods traffic of ‘express courier’ and to the General Aviation.
From its dedication in 1999, the National Airport Pavement Test Facility (NAPTF), of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has been tasked with conducting research on both rigid and flexible airport pavements. The facility offers a unique opportunity to study, instrument and record full-depth soil and pavement interactions under a variety of test parameters.
Until recently, the primary interest in measuring and evaluating the properties of airport pavement surface profiles has been, at least in the US, in characterising the vertical geometry and the smoothness of newly constructed pavements.
After a 10-year research and development effort, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is set to debut a new software package for airport pavement thickness design. The new program is called FAA Rigid and Flexible Iterative Elastic Layered Design, but is known by its acronym, FAArfield. In addition to putting the finishing touches on the FAArfield software, the FAA is also substantially rewriting the Advisory Circular (AC) covering Airport Pavement Design and Evaluation (AC 150/5320-6D). The revised AC will make FAArfield the FAA’s standard thickness design procedure for both rigid and flexible pavements, including overlays, and will retire the FAA nomograph-based design procedures.
Unforeseen operational delays related to pavements are not acceptable for airport authorities. This and limitations in the available funds and resources, as well as the strong need felt by the decision makers to qualify and to quantify the consequences of allocating budgets to maintenance, has led to the situation where use of a pavement maintenance management system is a must for airport authorities.
In preparation for the increasing introduction of heavy aircraft and new types of landing gear (e.g. B777 and A380), AIRBUS, STBA and LCPC undertook an ambitious research programme to define a more efficient pavement design method.
A report from this year’s European Pavement Workshop from the organisers.
The next generation of aircraft creates new pressures for an airport’s pavements, consequentially engineers at the FAA’s Research and Development centre are continuing to develop systems to predict and assess requirements.