Research Projects

Comparison of Tools and Use of Results for Determining Airfield Pavement Conditions

Review the tools and practices currently being used to conduct airfield pavement conditions.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

Airport pavement management programs (PMP) are used by various agency types involved in either the management of pavement for a single airport, a small group of airports (for example, a regional airport agency or authority), or a large number of airports (for example, a statewide system of airports with oversight from a State Department of Transportation). Historically, condition data collected as part of PMP efforts have primarily focused on manual visual condition inspection following PCI inspection procedures; collection of structural evaluation data through destructive or non-destructive methods such as coring or Falling Weight Deflectometer (FWD) testing; and other methods such as Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), infrared thermography, and so on. Newer technologies have evolved and are now being utilized by some agencies for condition assessment such as semi-automated data collection through various technologies including Laser Crack Measurement System (LCMS), 2D and 3D digital video, laser profiling, and rutting detection. In addition to these technologies, the advancement of UAS has shown some potential in collecting pavement conditions. With new visual condition technology emerging, results collected using different tools or approaches may not be directly comparable but may still provide beneficial information to decision makers. Assessing what the available tools can provide and how the results may differ needs to be better understood before being implemented. The intent of this research is to explore the applicability of these tools to provide the information necessary for airport agencies to make decisions to determine the most appropriate technology and to effectively manage their pavement network.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

• Identify pavement condition survey methods, along with their benefits and limitations. These may include manual Pavement Condition Index (PCI) surveys, high-speed data collection using an automated data collection vehicle and/or automated distress detection, LiDAR, and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).
• Conduct a thorough review and comparison of available technologies, including safety, data collection speed, accuracy, reliability, limitations (including weather and lighting requirements), overall efficiency gained and/or cost savings, as well as additional benefits that may not be directly comparable (including other measures that can be captured such as profile measurements, groove assessments, skid resistance, elevation or other geometry details, and other assets).
• Develop recommendations for the use of the available tools for pavement condition assessments and other potential uses, including identifying the most appropriate application provided by each technology and how it can be used by the managing agency for decision making.
• Investigate the uses of available technology to make informed decisions, including a comparison of the type and quality of decisions that can be made with the different technologies.
• Assess the suitability of results to meet various grant assurances, developing pavement maintenance and rehabilitation recommendations, and operating requirements.
• Based on the capabilities of available tools, assess recommendations for modified condition assessment standards, such as modifications to ASTM D5340 for non-manual condition inspections.

This research is critical in determining the effectiveness of using tools available for pavement condition assessment, including identifying their potential use, accuracy, usability, and impact use of pavement condition data. Equally important is determining the limitations of available technology and whether the use of these methods provide improvements to condition data collection in terms of safety, accuracy, reliability, overall cost savings, gained efficiencies, or new benefits that may be derived.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

The following general steps are recommended for the proposed research:

  1. Identify airfield pavements in varying condition and with a variety of different distresses present. For asphalt-surfaced pavements, this should include different pavement sections with varying levels of surface deterioration (specifically weathering and raveling) as well as three-dimensional surface distresses (such as depressions, rutting, and swelling) because these types of distress have historically been challenging to assess using imagery alone. Other common distresses such as cracking, alligator cracking, and patching should also be present to assess the ability to distinguish severity levels. Similar consideration should be given for concrete pavements, with special consideration given to faulting, material-related distress including potential alkali-silica reactivity and durability cracking, and joint sealant condition, in addition to more identifiable distresses such as cracking, spalling, and patching. In addition, slab size may be a consideration as some tools are not able to fully capture the condition of an entire slab greater than the typical width of a roadway lane (approximately 12 feet wide).
  2. The condition of the identified pavement sections should be assessed using each tool/technique at about the same time and under the same conditions. There may be a benefit to repeating the assessment under different lighting and weather conditions (sunny vs. cloudy day or wet vs. dry pavement) to better evaluate capabilities and limitations of the tools being compared.
  3. Assess the various tools for providing information intended to be collected and use of that data to make informed decisions. This may include a review of amount and types of distress data needed to make appropriate recommendations regarding future maintenance and rehabilitation needs.
  4. Identify the other measures (besides pavement condition) that can be captured with the various technology, and the benefits to the managing agency in obtaining and using such information to drive decisions.
  5. Provide recommendations on the appropriate application and use of available technology.
  6. Provide recommendations for future research, including the need to develop a modified condition assessment procedure specifically tailored to automated data collection methods.

This study would include both concrete and asphalt-surfaced pavements.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

Estimated cost: $300,000. Research should include side-by-side comparison of condition data collected for the same facility at approximately the same time using various tools. At least five pavement sections in varying condition for each pavement type (concrete and asphalt surfaces) is recommended.

Approximate duration: 1 year

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.
  1. Pending ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S9-09: Automated Pavement Condition Survey Practices at Airports
  2. ACRP Report 159 - Pavement Maintenance Guidelines for General Aviation Airport Management
  3. ACRP Synthesis 22: Common Airport Pavement Maintenance Practices
  4. ACRP Report 39: Recommended Guidelines for the Collection and Use of Geospatially Referenced Data for Airfield Pavement Management
  5. ACRP Project No. 09-17: Guidelines for Collecting, Applying, and Maintaining Pavement Condition Data at Airports


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Idea No. 277