Use of a Digital Survey Vehicle for Pavement Condition Surveys at Airports
Wilke, Paul W.
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Pavement Management Systems (PMS's) are used extensively as a tool to manage airfield pavements. The pavement surface condition survey is a primary component of all PMS's. Traditionally, pavement condition surveys at airports have been conducted using a foot-on-ground (FOG) approach where inspectors walk the pavement area and collect detailed distress data. In contrast, most highway pavement condition surveys are conducted by driving over the paved area; many of these driving surveys are now completed using a digital survey vehicle (DSV). The DSV collects downward facing pavement video, photographs, and other data while traveling at speeds up to 60 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour). The DSV offers several advantages over the FOG approach. One of the main advantages for airports is the speed of field data collection which minimizes the disruption to airfield operations. Some have been reluctant to use the DSV for airport condition surveys because of real or perceived limitations of the DSV approach. Airport pavements, especially runways, are significantly wider than roadway lanes thus requiring multiple passes of a DSV to collect data over the full pavement width which can pose challenges in referencing the relative position of each run. Other concerns include detection of pavement defects that pose a risk of foreign object damage (FOD) to aircraft and detection of slight rutting that may not be visible from DSV images. This paper describes the advantages and disadvantages of DSV and FOG approaches to airport condition surveys as well as special considerations for mitigation of potential problems while using the DSV approach.