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Grooved/Ungrooved Runways

Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:57 pm

I am starting this thread as a place to continue the discussion about Grooved Runways that was started in the thread about the Trans States plane in YOW.

Questions I will start the thread with.

Should Canada groove their runways? Would Grooved Runways hurt their winter ops up there? And if Grooved Runways aren't a problem at US airports with lots of Winter Weather (MSP, BOS, BUF, DTW, etc), why is it a big deal in Canada?
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RE: Grooved/Ungrooved Runways

Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:20 pm

How about waiting till TC and NRC have thoroughly studied the issue before rushing to judgement?

I would rather have the educated opinions of scientists and engineers than a rush to judgement by internet randoms. This country still has a rather excellent safety record (on more than just the aviation front, I might add), and a handful of runway excursions over decades do not warrant a rush to judgement.

I expect the authorities to study the matter and make a sound judgement on whether the benefits of grooved pavement during the summer months outweigh any possible risks in the winter. And more specifically, airports like YOW also face local micro-climates which make exacerbate the situation if the wrong options are picked.
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RE: Grooved/Ungrooved Runways

Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:34 pm

No one is rushing to judgment. The OP is simply wanting to discuss the differences between the two types of runways and the reasons why having grooved runways might be a very good idea. Just because someone is posting on Anet doesn't mean they aren't more knowledgeable than "experts" or scientists who will come up with their own conclusions.

It may indeed be true that Canada should consider grooving their runways. We don't yet know for sure what happened on that flight, but people on here can ask and receive information pertaining to the two different runways. In fact, some on here might have the correct answer as to what should be done and which are safer in various conditions.
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RE: Grooved/Ungrooved Runways

Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:06 pm

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.
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RE: Grooved/Ungrooved Runways

Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:28 pm

Quoting apodino (Thread starter):

MSP and DTW have concrete runways...

Most runways in Canada are asphalt runways. As mentioned above, asphalt runways arent ideal to grooving, especially up here in Canada.

Quoting MrChips (Reply 3):
It should also be said that concrete runways (which take to grooving much better than asphalt runways)
Quoting MrChips (Reply 3):
as concrete simply isn't flexible enough to handle our climactic conditions;


us Air Traffic Controllers have a good record, we haven't left one up there yet !!
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RE: Grooved/Ungrooved Runways

Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:56 am

Quoting thenoflyzone (Reply 4):
Most runways in Canada are asphalt runways. As mentioned above, asphalt runways arent ideal to grooving, especially up here in Canada.

The airport that I work at in central-western New Hampshire has grooved asphalt runways. One if the bigger drawbacks that I have noticed is that when there has been a large accumulation of ice, it can be difficult to remove, this could be a result of the grooving, or just tough New England Ice.
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Re: Grooved/Ungrooved Runways

Wed May 24, 2017 5:50 pm

In the AC624 thread, the discussion of grooved runways in Canada has come up once again. There's some useful info in this new-ish TC document: https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/ ... 8-1724.htm

Here's a particularly interesting quote:


1. Grooves cut into pavement will trap anti-icing/de-icing chemicals, reducing loss of the chemicals, and prolonging their actions. Grooving may also assist in draining melt water and preventing refreezing.
2. It is important to ensure that applied anti-icing/de-icing chemicals penetrate the grooves to prevent the formation of ice in the grooves.
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Re: Grooved/Ungrooved Runways

Thu May 25, 2017 1:40 am

There are a number of grooved runways now in Canada.
DH1/3/4 MD11/88 L1011 A319/20/21/30/80 717 727 735/6/7/8/9 744 762/3 77E/W E40/75/90 CRJ/700/705 CC150
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