Airport Engineering

DESIGN and discussion on ACN, PCN and LCN
The mighty DC8-71F  
AIRCRAFT CODES (IATA for bookings)



Airport codes around the world

Aquaplaning (see friction below as well). Why do we worry about aquaplaning? check out Liege runway 05R by clicking here. For an introduction to the problem, Capt. Ranganathan has written an informative article, and for more technical discussion on aquaplaning  and (from PPrune) a discussion on speed for hydroplaning  and discussion on Qantas QF1 overrun  and discussion on the effect of grooving on whether a runway is wet or "dry".  Not trying to pinch PPRUNE's thunder, just making sure that their words of wisdom don't get lost with the passage of time. If you're serious about aviation, go there and sign up -  
on managing slippery runways.

and friction (see aquaplaning above and texture just below). Introductory discussion on comparison between methods. There is not, at present, a common friction index for all ground friction measuring devices. I'm not sure if this  USAF chart  should be used to convert between measuring devices, since there is general concern that devices do not measure repeatably and reproducibly. Don't mix up wet pavement friction and snow friction - they are different in concept. Note that the decelerometers (Tapley or brakemeter) are for snow covered pavements, not specifically not for wet pavements or slush covered ones. Presentation by ERAA on friction and snow  - one of the conclusions from this paper was: “There is no overall accepted certification to operational correlation between mu meters and airplanes”; it's been lost on their website but if you click here it might be found it again. Discussion on the effect of heavy rain (thunderstorms) on braking action and friction here.

and texture.  Texture (both microtexture and macrotexture) are important contributions to good wet weather friction. A lack of either macrotexture OR microtexture (or both) affects the ability of the runway to alleviate fluid pressure (i.e. water pressure building up under the tyres).   

There is an old but great NASA paper on "Wet Runways" by Walter Horne (NASA TM X-72650; 1975) (e-mail me if you want a copy) which defines and discusses some important parameters associated with aircraft stopping and directional control performance on wet runways. The major elements affecting tyre/ground traction for jet transport aircraft are identified and described in terms of atmospheric, pavement, tyre, aircraft system and pilot performance factors or parameters. Note: being American, there is more written in the paper about tires than tyres

When water is deposited on runways during rainstorms, a water removal or drainage problem is created at tyre/pavement interfaces of the moving aircraft. The stationary water intercepted by the translating/rotating aircraft tires must be rapidly expelled from the tyre/pavement contact zone or viscous and dynamic water pressures build-up with increasing ground speed. When the average water pressure developed between the tyre and pavement surface equals the tyre inflation pressure, total dynamic or viscous hydroplaning occurs, and the tyre is supported on a water layer or film and is no longer in direct contact with the pavement. In this situation tyre braking and cornering forces are almost zero, due to the inability of a fluid (water) to support shear forces of any appreciable magnitude.


Birds  Bird strikes Runways lengthened - why wait till its too late


Carparking  This is at a premium at many airports, and a significant source of income for the major airports. Some places - like Tu****e - are more like carparks with a runway. Well I suppose this is slightly better than being a shopping mall with a runway like F***rt. Or a business where the runway is simply a nuisance and never-ending cost centre - like Bri**ol. The cost of providing carparking varies substantially, and the multi-story carparks can really cost a lot. Click here for a budget carpark costing. 

Disclaimer     Good reason to check first 
Small general aviation airstrips, Flying Doctor (RFDS) airstrips and bush airstrips are mentioned in various CASA and RFDS guides or PPRUNE discussion; there is even a wall poster of them  (caution: there are a lot of specific aviation rules to be met in design, and only an airport engineer/inspector has the full knowledge needed to meet all the requirements).

(Very) simple discussion on larger airport design  See also the aircraft performance Rules below. 

A simple discussion on rigid and flexible pavements, subgrades and the difference between LCN, ACN and the British LCG/LCN is here. The ICAO chart relating ESWL and LCN is here and the UK chart is here. The ICAO values seem to be a bit higher than the UK ones, and are the values that those good folks at Boeing publish. And now an approximate chart to convert LCN to ACN - read the cautions at the top closely because this is not accurate - I got ACN 34 after a detailed calculation from LCN 64 for a multi-wheel aircraft on flexible, and the chart gives 40 - it is only approximate, and included here as a tool to give a ballpark check. The excellent Boeing paper on PCN gives a more accurate method of converting between ACN and LCN. 

You can calculate PCN from the equation below (standard subgrade CBRs being 3, 6, 10 and 15), and you can turn the equation around to find so the thickness of pavement needed for a certain PCN [for a 'B' subgrade of CBR 10, thickness = SQRT(75.31 * PCN) cms]  [for a 'C' subgrade of CBR 6, thickness = SQRT(133.84 * PCN) cms].

The new FAA runway length manual is useful for length estimates, the older one more so, but for goodness sake don't use this for operations. And finally, don't forget to read the Disclaimer 

Improvised runways  Improvised (and bush) airstrips (more discussion from PPRUNE) and a close-up look at how they get used. Also a CRREL nomogram that can be used to relate very weak (earth, gravel, snow, ice) runways to aircraft weight, tyre pressure and number of passes (caution: only a senior airport pavement engineer has the additional knowledge needed to use this in practice).

Jet blast  Take-off thrust discussion (more PPRUNE). Ready to line-up on the piano keys, stand on the brakes and wind 'er up? Or do you allow for the distance travelled while you turn and line-up, then stabilise at breakaway thrust and start the roll and only get full power after 6 seconds? Boeing seems to prefer the rolling take-off as it expedites take-off and reduces the risk of FOD. Check the blast clearance as you try this in your 737-800

Maintenance  Click for a discussion on Maintenance rolling of sealed runways. 
Of course, any runway maintenance work needs to be properly notified. There is a well established system (at least in most countries) of taking facilities out of service. Here's what happens when you don't properly "NOTAM" (notice to airmen) a runway under construction. Late 2004, a C-23 Sherpa flew into a U.S. operated airfield in Iraq during the day and saw there was construction equipment on the runway. Yet there was no NOTAM. A trench was being dug in the runway, and it was not marked. It's a long runway and they just landed beyond the construction. They filed a safety hazard report. Well, it seems the construction continued and still was not marked or NOTAM'ed. A C-130 landed on the runway the night of 29/12/04 and didn't see the construction. It wound up going through a section of runway which was opened up down to the subbase - click here for a look at that. All the bits fell off - click here for that photo. There were several injuries to the crew and the few passengers that were on board but luckily nobody was killed OR what about Centurion's N189AX, on a cargo flight from Miami, overran Bogota's runway 13L (12,460 ft) after reportedly hitting a pothole on the runway, skidding, and here it is.

Madeira What an airport, and what a triumph for Portuguese engineering !   520 million Euros to build a 1km extension of the runway that looks like an overhead freeway (except it is a runway), standing on concrete piles/pillars 120 metres tall (60 m above and 60 m below sea level). Click here and here for some photos of this amazing feat.

Noise   Noise (including ANEF, ANEC, N70 and dBA) mainly from some interesting DoTRS environmental work

Performance  Take-off distance calculation discussion and takeoff overspeed V2  (more PPRUNE). Failed to read the discussion? Just got the beast stopped by the piano keys at the far end, accompanied by smoking tyres and screaming pax? Flex triceps, cheated death again, smooth the moustache, adjust oversized genuine gold plated pilot wings and give casual glance at brake temperature gauge. Cold shivers down the spine. Of course if you had carbon brakes, it might be different. For what might be the first time in a public forum, read how carbon brakes work.  

Probability  Simple discussion on how to calculate the rate of accidents/engine failures etc

Rules The JAA (Joint Aviation Authorities) (of Europe) have a published set of rules covering aircraft performance (JAR-OPS), and have got them online (find them by Google search).  The Australian airport rules are their Part 139, and the the UK airport rules are CAP 168. Hopefully one of the rules will suit you. The aircraft design group for the various Boeing aircraft is found here.
Note that the European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) will ultimately become inactive and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will replace them.  

Textbooks I'm occasionally asked about books and textbooks covering airports and runways, so here is the list:  Textbooks: Airport (and runway)

Towing aircraft. If you need to move a large aircraft in an emergency, we airport engineers thought it was just a case of hooking up the biggest fire engine and letting rip, but we might have underestimated the science involved. Although, for this driver with 320hp on tap, towing science can take a backseat to ARFF brute force. Anyway it beats pushing the thing. 

Water runways  Here is the pilot expert on water runways.

Ageing 747 aircraft commentary by Arcniz 

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An approximate chart to convert LCN to ACN - read the cautions at the top of the document closely because this is not accurate, as I discuss above.
And remember that within an aircraft type in a  fleet, the weight and tyre pressures can vary.

Disclaimer      Good reason to check first  

Airbus A310 
Airbus A319 for flexible/asphalt pavements, and now A319 rigid/concrete 
Airbus A320 flexible and Airbus A320 rigid - both with the standard undercarriage
Airbus A320_doublebogie   with the very rare optional bogie undercarriage (which makes a big difference)
Airbus A321 flexible and Airbus A321 rigid and the charts extend to cover the new A321-200 with the 93,000 kg MTOW option that Jetstar have bought (warning to pavement engineers - this might be your new critical aircraft)
Airbus A330-300
Airbus A340-300 (baby)
Airbus A340-600 (daddy)
Airbus A350-900 flexible and rigid (new for 2012)
Airbus A400M flexible - preliminary pending official data from Airbus - use with caution
Airbus A400M rigid - preliminary pending official data from Airbus - use with caution
Airbus A380  (big daddy). Here is the gear layout and here is what the professional tug driver can do turning the A380
Antonov AN-12 (Shaanxi Y-8)
Antonov AN-22 - see the Boeing 777-300 graph below which has a similar loading
Antonov AN-124-100
Antonov AN225
BAe 146-200 
BAe RJ100 
Boeing 707-320C  
Boeing 717-200
Boeing 727-200  (warning to pavement engineers - this ancient mariner can still be the critical aircraft)
Boeing 737-300
Boeing 737-400  including both normal and low pressure tyres
Boeing 737-700 and -800  and now a graph for checking jet blast velocities and  blast clearance 
Boeing 757-300
Boeing 767-300
Boeing 777-300 flexible pavement
    Boeing 777-300 rigid pavement 
Boeing 747-400  
Bombardier C series - CS300  (warning - this is very preliminary and is not for operational use)
C-27J Spartan
Dash 8-300  (2009: new weights and the Australian lower pressure tyres)
Dash 8-400  (warning - it's 10 tonnes heavier than the -300, this is not a simple step-up)
Embraer ERJ135LR
Embraer 190 LR 
Fokker F27-500
Fokker F50
Fokker F100
And a special for Western Australian mining operators   Fokker F100 pavement design chart 
Ilyushin 76-TD
Lockheed C130 Hercules  
Lockheed L1101-500
McDonnell Douglas C-17 
McDonnell Douglas MD-83
Shorts Belfast  flexible  rigid

CRREL nomogram
that can be used to relate very weak (earth, gravel, snow, ice) runways to aircraft weight, tyre pressure and number of passes. Good for obscure Russian and military cargo aircraft with low pressure tyres (caution: only a senior airport pavement engineer has the additional knowledge needed to use this in practice). 

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Ferry pilot - oceanic ferrying takes courage
Coming in full circle - Malcolm White - writing somewhere between Ernest Gann and Neville Shute. And I still shed a tear every time I read this.
Scariest flight

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