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Pavement Management Programs: Standardizing Runway Maintenance

Dec 3, 2020

Back to Veoci BlogPavement Management Programs: Standardizing Runway Maintenance

Organizations and ecosystems, among many other constructs, rely on a carefully struck balance between different populations, devices, and dynamics. Aviation, as the industry’s experts and practitioners know, is one of these constructs.

This industry depends on many devices, one of those being airports. Airports themselves, however, are also contained systems that must maintain balance between their operations.

Runway pavement is one of those essential airport operations. Planes need well-kept pavement to land, take off, and move about a taxi-way safely. And because runways degrade through use and exposure to weather, airfield crews need to monitor pavement conditions and repair deficiencies. Effectively, crews need to operationalize runway maintenance. 

Fortunately, airports have done this with Part 139 operations, and offers a model for pavement management. 

Data and People

Airfield crews are familiar with standardized approaches to operations. Aviation, as an industry, requires precise data, which airfield crews capture through regular inspections.

Pavement management is no exception to this rule. Much like airfield inspections, pavement requires frequent and thorough inspections to ensure its quality and that it fosters a safe environment for aircraft.

This naturally generates a lot of data. Airports need to have the data gathering and reporting infrastructure to support this reality. Pavement, maybe almost deceptively, takes up a lot of space, even at small airports. The length of a runway will also depend on the types of aircrafts a hub typically services. Larger airports typically have runways that span at least a mile, if not two or more. And, to support heavier aircraft, pavement can be as thick as a meter.

Due to the gargantuan size of runways, personnel will need a lot of time to parse through the runway and identify discrepancies and hazards of the pavement. Personnel that are new to the process will need to be trained to notice issues and how to catalog them, as well. Inspectors on the runway should be  enabled so that a runway is inspected properly, airport management can remedy issues, and the airport can reassure aircraft pilots that facilities are safe and usable.

Data and personnel are at the center of this operation. If both are so important to pavement management, then airports should do what they can to facilitate how their personnel perform the operation and how the data within is gathered.

Tech Lends a Hand

Airports are no strangers to technology. While a small percentage of airports still operate on pen and paper or manual processes, many have implemented technology for inspections, administration, or other operations.

Technology is well-rooted in Part 139 and airfield inspections in particular, and a number of platforms offer solutions for Part 139 and airfield inspections (including Veoci). Through platforms, airfield crews can greatly streamline inspections, create new efficiencies in the processes, and ultimately save funds, either directly or by reducing spending on person-hours.

At a high level, pavement management is similar to Part 139 and airfield inspections. Both operations need a data gathering tool, a way to catalog known issues, and to kickstart work orders.

So, if an airport were to build a pavement management program, it would need to mirror, in part, existing solutions for Part 139 operations. 

First, a pavement management program would need to support large-scale data handling. The program would need infrastructure for not only gathering information in a standardized manner, but for storing that information for later reference.

Most of the data will be issues inspectors find; inspections, however, are just the first step in the process of maintaining a runway. A pavement management system should also use that data to spur corrective actions. When a deficiency is found and entered into the system, a work order should be generated and sent to the appropriate stakeholders.

Expanding a Pavement Management Program

The technical components discussed above are necessary. Other pieces can be added via the right platform, however, to enhance the program and make it more productive and efficient overall.

Personnel are one of the cornerstones of this operation. A platform can enable an airfield crew by cutting out paper, for example. A crew can also easily learn an intuitive platform, helping get the program up to speed and operational quickly.

More importantly, a smart platform can incorporate the pavement life cycle into a program. Automatic, scheduled notifications can ensure timely maintenance and reduce the number of discrepancies that develop overall. This set-up also pushes a proactive approach.

Better Pavement Management

Most people don’t realize how important good pavement is to a functioning airport. But those in the industry recognize its role in the larger picture, and know it takes active management to maintain. Introducing software for a pavement management program, as many airports have done for Part 139 and airfield inspections, can introduce standardization and elevate a pavement management program and make it more effective overall.

Photo by Brent Cox on Unsplash

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