I would say that there are more disadvantages grooving runways at many airports here in Canada than there are advantages.
In an airport like YVR
, where the climate is fairly moderate and often quite wet, there is a compelling case in favour of grooved runways. However, YVR
is definitely the exception to the rule in terms of climate in Canada. Most of our airports experience very large variations in temperature, especially during the winter. With a grooved runway, any moisture will melt during the day (unless it is blisteringly cold) and accumulate in the grooves and soak into the asphalt, where it will freeze during the night. As these freeze-thaw cycles continue over time, the cracks and pores in the asphalt will grow, weakening the runway surface, thus opening the window for chunks of the surfacing to break apart or for potholes to form.
It should also be said that concrete runways (which take to grooving much better than asphalt runways) are largely impractical in Canada, as concrete simply isn't flexible enough to handle our climactic conditions; this is why most runways (and indeed, our roads) in Canada are surfaced with asphalt, as it is much more flexible.
Even beyond the argument as to whether or not to groove our runways, other questions should be asked first, such as:
1) Does Runway 07/25 in YOW
(which has caused this furor here) have a larger problem with drainage, such as inadequate design or construction (beyond grooving, of course), and most importantly;
2) Why does it seem that only one airline seems to suffer disproportionately when landing on this runway under these condtions while others do not? As someone who has worked with flight safety for most of my career, I would postulate that it is more likely there is an issue with the airline, rather than with the airport.