2019 CSCE Annual Conference - Laval (Greater Montreal)

2019 CSCE Annual Conference - Laval (Greater Montreal) Conference

Incorporating Infrared Heating Technology in Crack Repair Operations for Airport Runways and Taxiways

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Ms. Victoria Speller, CPATT (Presenter)
Mr. YANG LIU, University of Waterloo
Dr. Susan Tighe, CPATT - University of Waterloo

As demand for travel by aircraft steadily increases, airports are becoming busier than ever.  Airfield pavement loads are therefore increasing in turn by both weight and frequency. As climate change causes more extreme and hazardous weather conditions, the environmental loading on runways and taxiways also becomes more severe. Regular maintenance and repair operations are necessary to maintain an adequate level of service for these airfield pavement surfaces.  Increased cost, frequency and time restrictions for these pavement repairs are a result of this growing demand for air travel.

One of the most common pavement deficiencies in runways and taxiways is cracking. Most cracking when first established is only a minor deficiency, but when left to propagate can result in major pavement damage and premature pavement replacement. Cracking can also cause small chunks of pavement to separate from the pavement surface, creating debris on the airfield.  This kind of debris is referred as foreign object damage (FOD) risk for the aircraft. The increased demand on airfield pavements creates more opportunity for cracking to propagate. New methods for repairing the cracked areas must be considered in order to keep up with airport’s increasing pavement repair requirements. Infrared heating is a relatively new crack repair process which uses infrared light to evenly heat the pavement surface. This process heats up the in-place pavement until it is malleable enough to rework, adds rejuvenators to restore some of the pavement’s innate properties, then compacts the affected area to repair cracks and other deficiencies. Using the pavement’s in place material, or recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) for this repair method has been a cause of concern for airport agencies considering the extremely high performance standards airport runways have for their asphalt materials.  Previous studies have shown, however, that reclaimed asphalt material can perform similarly, or even better than 100% virgin materials.  

The objective of this paper is to analyze the use of infrared heating technology for crack repairs on airfield pavements and compare it to the current crack repair processes used. The benefits and drawbacks of all repair methods will be compared based on performance factors, cost, and repair time. Based on the performance characteristics the repaired pavement achieves utilizing each crack repair method, an ideal pavement repair method will be determined for different locations and crack types on the airfield. The findings of this paper can be used to optimize crack repair practices for runways and taxiways.