Maintaining Airport Pavement Friction Using Surface Densification
Gransberg, Douglas D.
Pittenger, Dominique M.
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Pavement structures are an airport's “greatest asset and greatest liability”. As a result, preserving airport pavements is not only the most logical but also the most economical solution because preservation focuses on keeping good pavements in good condition rather than relying on reactive maintenance to merely repair problems after they occur. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to explore an underutilized pavement preservation tool - applying chemical surface treatments to new and existing pavements (runways, taxiways and aprons) to harden them against abrasion, minimize potential for foreign object debris (FOD), reduce permeability to retard degradation from deicing solutions, and to retain skid resistance lost to both snowplowing and rubber accumulation. Besides enhanced safety, one of the greatest benefits of preserving pavements is realized in the reduction of operational disturbance. Shutting down a runway at a major airport to perform unscheduled reactive maintenance can literally paralyze the throughput at that airport and disrupt traffic at connecting airports. Therefore, a treatment that has a marginally higher initial cost may become a bargain if it extends the service life of the pavement and more importantly, extends the time between maintenance disruptions. This paper explains the chemical treatment technologies in the context of airport pavements and explores cost effectiveness on a life cycle cost basis. The paper concludes that there is potential benefit to adopting lithium-based treatments as an airport pavement preservation tool.