apodino
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Concrete Vs Asphalt Runways

Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:05 pm

One thing I have noticed in recent years is that almost all of the new runways being built in the US seem to be Concrete runways. This includes the rebuilt 7R-25L in LAS, the rebuilt 13R-31L at JFK, the new runways that have been built at CLT, CVG, and ORD to name a few. However I also notice BOS continues to use Asphalt to rebuild runways at BOS, even going as far as touting a warm mix asphalt that they use which is more enviornmentally friendly. My thing is, Concrete seems to be better for the environment than Asphalt from what I see. That aside, I notice that all the surface movement areas at BOS are asphalt and there is a lot of cracking that keeps having to be sealed, which I have not seen at airports with Concrete.

So my question is this, why is BOS using Asphalt instead of Concrete, when everyone else seems to be using Concrete, and is one really better than the other? Concrete seems better to me, but BOS still won't use it.
 
B6JFKH81
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RE: Concrete Vs Asphalt Runways

Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:57 pm

The two points that immediately come to my mind are:

COST: Concrete is more expensive than asphalt.

TIME: It takes longer to do concrete than asphalt (unless you get pre-made slabs), which means longer down time for the runway, backed up operations at the airport, etc. A good example is the JFK Bay Runway which took months to do in multiple phases, and there were multiple times where JFK went down to SINGLE RUNWAY OPERATIONS. All 3 of the airlines shown in the picture below extended reduced/winter schedules to help reduce the backlog, but that hurt the airlines, and in some cases the reduced flying didn't help at all because you were dealing with only 1 runway.


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vikkyvik
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RE: Concrete Vs Asphalt Runways

Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:56 pm

Some good answers here:

Asphalt Vs. Concrete? (by quadagon Dec 22 2010 in Tech Ops)

There are a few other threads about it as well.
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Starlionblue
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RE: Concrete Vs Asphalt Runways

Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:26 pm

It depends on many factors:
- Climate, meaning prevailing temperature and humidity.
- Initial cost.
- Initial construction time.
- Maintenance cost.
- Expected lifetime.

Also, while we tend to think of asphalt and concrete as "static" technologies, they are still being developed, meaning new compounds and so forth. In other words, which one is correct for a certain application can change over time.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Northwest727
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RE: Concrete Vs Asphalt Runways

Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:18 pm

Asphalt also degrades faster than concrete over time due to 1000ºF/538ºC jet exhaust being blasted over it constantly. I have personally seen the effect while interning at a major class B airport, the runway started having "ripples" all over the place that needed to be replaced, especially around the touchdown markers (where aircraft are flaring mostly).

So what I have learned:

Concrete: Higher initial cost, lower maintenance cost
Asphalt: Lower initial cost, higher maintenance cost
 
JayinKitsap
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RE: Concrete Vs Asphalt Runways

Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:05 pm

It's cost, local practice, and technology. Also, the economics of one v the other change with the market.

a) Asphalt pavements are more flexible, but the wheel load transmits to the native earth basically in a pyramid through the road base. A given amount of movement in the subgrade can be tolerated in asphalt that would crack concrete.
b) Asphalt pavements on typical city roadways is around 4 inches, main roads and highways are thicker, typically 6 to 8 inches. Taxiways are similar, major runways are 10 to 12 inches. As there is about 5% oil in asphalt, cost is significant.
c) Concrete has improved a lot over the last 40 years, reinforced concrete can spread the load out a significant distance to reduce the loads to the underlying soil. Also, less joints and better levelness.
d) An unseen thing is the addition of reinforced plastic grids in the gravel base below. These geogrids make the subgrade much stronger, allowing a thinner pavement, both concrete and asphalt.

Currently, concrete is probably the preferred material for runways, with a tossup for taxiways, and preferred for aprons. Both take a lot of energy to produce, with the cement making process using using coal vs oil.
 
NBGSkyGod
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RE: Concrete Vs Asphalt Runways

Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:17 pm

It has a lot to do with the New England climate, there are very few runways up here that are completely concrete. There are a few that are mixed with concrete portions, but for the most part its all asphalt. The main reason for this is the fact that asphalt is more flexible in changing temperatures where concrete is much less.
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Tupolev160
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RE: Concrete Vs Asphalt Runways

Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:14 am

I also noticed some airports using Asphalt/Concrete or "Grooved concrete" runways? What should those mean? Also, in ex-USSR all airports seem to be made with concrete runways. Could concrete be more suitable for extreme weather?
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tdscanuck
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RE: Concrete Vs Asphalt Runways

Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:17 am

Quoting Tupolev160 (Reply 7):

I also noticed some airports using Asphalt/Concrete or "Grooved concrete" runways? What should those mean?

Grooved concrete is what it sounds like...concrete with grooves cut in it. This helps with wet weather traction.

Some runways are a mix of asphalt and concrete, for example Glasgow Industrial. If you look at it on Google maps you can clearly see the light concrete and dark asphalt sections.

Quoting Tupolev160 (Reply 7):
Also, in ex-USSR all airports seem to be made with concrete runways. Could concrete be more suitable for extreme weather?

Concrete is generally more durable.

Tom.
 
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Dreadnought
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RE: Concrete Vs Asphalt Runways

Fri Nov 23, 2012 7:06 am

Quoting Tupolev160 (Reply 7):
I also noticed some airports using Asphalt/Concrete or "Grooved concrete" runways? What should those mean? Also, in ex-USSR all airports seem to be made with concrete runways. Could concrete be more suitable for extreme weather?

Soviet-era runways were horrible - the concrete slabs being uneven and poorly joined. A couple come to mind in particular, Poltava and Alma Ata - the first time we landed on those I thought we were crashing!

I remember seeing at various airports in Europe, particularly where they have only one or two runways, that they are set up for constant renewal. In Geneva, for instance (only one runway), every night they have a big rig that goes out and replaces a few slabs every night. As long as you have a few hours per day, you don't need to shut down the runway for 6 months to redo it.
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