Falls Airport runway has pockmarks

This is a worrying report, $16 million for a runway surface that’s starting to break up after just a few months. It does raise an interesting point of course, that of runway condition monitoring. Detecting FOD that has suddenly appeared on the runway is something that all the current FOD detection systems are designed to do, but detecting changes that occur over a long period of time is also an issue. If you’re considering the purchase of a FOD detection system make sure you raise this with the system vendors.

A $16 million runway project completed just last year at Klamath Falls Airport is showing signs of trouble.

City Manager Rick Whitlock says the aggregate rock used as a base for the pavement has been showing through and creating “pockmarks” in the runway surface. The renovated runway opened last November.

Airport Operations Manager Bill Hancock says a pavement surface should last 15 to 20 years. Officials are concerned that jet engines are ingesting the rock and debris.

“We’re disappointed that it’s occurring, but we are working with the contractors,” Airport Operations Manager Bill Hancock said.

Airport officials started noticing rocks popping out of the pavement in mid-March.”There had been two or three days of some rain, and then the temperatures went up fairly high, and then down low. We went from a freezing to pavement temperatures as high as 90 degrees,” Hancock said. After the series of extreme temperatures, airfield inspectors discovered the holes across the runways and taxiways.

“The rock popping out in aviation terms is what we call FOD, Foreign Object Debris, and that causes Foreign Object Damage. It gets ingested in aircraft engines. It can cause other problems, and so it’s very critical that we keep the pavement surfaces clean,” Hancock said.

Whitlock says the city is negotiating with Kerr Contractors, the firm that did the renovation, to resolve the issue. A proposed fix would grind off the top layer of pavement and replace it with a more durable surface.

The Woodburn-based construction company won the runway project with a $16.6 million bid, much lower than the $24 million estimate provided by engineers. The project was also completed in six months instead of the expected three years. Hancock says the runway is safe now and the airport is fully operational.

“It has resulted in an increased vigilance. We’re inspecting it more to make sure we’re cognizant of when it’s continuing to pop out. We’ve increased the sweeping programs,” Hancock said.

The pavement mix is formulated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Source (KDRV.com)

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