Data Paves the Way for Improving FAA Grant Prospects
Data Paves the Way for Improving FAA Grant Prospects
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Data Paves the Way for Improving FAA Grant Prospects
By: Jason Fuehne 2 minute read

Airport operators looking for federal funding to support runway upgrades and other pavement-replacement projects find it prudent to be sure they've gathered information that's becoming increasingly critical in FAA decision-making.

Airport operators looking for federal funding to support runway upgrades and other pavement-replacement projects find it prudent to be sure they've gathered information that's becoming increasingly critical in FAA decision-making.

To be eligible for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants, Pavement Preventative Maintenance must be assured by each sponsor for all pavements on the airport, not just the specific pavement to be supported by the grant. Maintenance items may not be eligible for AIP funding, with the exception of projects at non-hub primary airports and non-primary airports.

This means pavement management programs and accuracy in Pavement Condition Index (PCI) data are becoming increasingly important to an airport's infrastructure condition. Each proposed pavement rehabilitation or reconstruction project must pass the "Basic Justification Tests" presented in the AIP Handbook.

To satisfy the FAA's justification requirements, airports should create a robust pavement management program and maintain continual recording of pavement maintenance and management activities. This is especially true for large infrastructure programs such as a runway or taxiway reconstructions.

To support reasonable consideration by FAA for funding a project:

  • Research the history of pavement structures at the airport. This can be done using the pavement management program (PMP) process. Knowing the history of pavement structures may assist in planning and setting priorities.
  • Perform timely pavement condition index (PCI) inspections. FAA Advisory Circular 150/5380-7B — published in October of 2014 — says that airports must perform a detailed inspection of airfield pavements at least once a year, althoughthe frequency of detailed inspection byPCI surveys may be extended to three years,under certain circumstances.
  • Perform and plan a yearly pavement maintenance budget. Recording all maintenance activities and costs provides the sponsor with justification required to continue to receive grant-eligible funding. Recording maintenance activities should include the location and activity type.This may be assisted by a geographic information system (GIS) at the airport or some other asset management system.
  • Incorporate recommendations from the PMP into the Airport Capital Improvement Plan and data sheets submitted to FAA for approval. The sooner that large rehabilitation and reconstruction projects are planned, the more likely that funding will be available. The PMP should coincide with goals of the airport's own master plan.

For major rehabilitation projects, it is imperative that an airport's sponsor plan well in advance and manage its infrastructure in accordance with FAA requirements.

Jason Fuehne is an associate project manager in the Aviation Group at Burns & McDonnell.

Avoid Trouble

Don't let a lack of pavement information become a pothole. The Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program (AIP) Handbook Order 5100.38D, updated Sept. 30, 2014, includes items being enforced by the FAA for grant assurances on virtually every project performed.

Smart Sensors

Making certain to maintain detailed and accurate data regarding the condition of airport pavement is critical. But being able to obtain such information can prove less certain.

In a report, "Smart Airport Pavement Instrumentation and Health Monitoring," researchers at Iowa State University note that recent advancements in microtechnology, nanotechnology, wireless networks and other components are combining with "efficient, energy-scavenging paradigms (to) provide opportunities for long-term, continuous, real-time response measurement and health monitoring of transportation infrastructure systems."

Such monitoring is critical, the researchers say, in that such monitoring can help prevent pavement blow-ups during heat waves, therefore avoiding problems that would be considered catastrophic.

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