The FAA held its spring Research, Engineering, and Development Advisory Committee (REDAC), Airport Subcommittee meeting last week.

The concrete pavement industry is represented on the Subcommittee by ACPA’s Gary Mitchell, and the cement industry is represented by Cemex’s Jim Mack (and past Chairman of ACPA-2019).

The Subcommittee provides input and recommendations to the FAA research program at the William J. Hughes Test Center in Atlantic City, NJ.

John Dermody, Director of the FAA Office of Airports, Safety and Standards Branch, discussed the restructuring to the Office of Airports and introduced Bob Craven, the Director of FAA Office of Airports, Planning and Programming Branch, as well as the agency’s two new pavement/civil engineers, Harold Honey and Jeff Crislip.

Updates on research being conducted in coordination with the FAA Test Center were provided to the Subcommittee by NASA and the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP). NASA provided an update on urban air mobility and what the future of airport infrastructure may look. The ACRP updated the Subcommittee on a number of topics on which they are working. The FAA Test Center then provided updates on several projects on which the FAA is working, including the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to collect pavement distress data, the status of research on trapezoidal runway grooves, climate effects on runway lengths, and an extended pavement design life program.

Gary and Jim provided input to the programs by encouraging the FAA to research the use of machine learning to evaluate pavement management data—including materials—to compare the performance of pavements. As proposed, this would provide real maintenance requirements for life cycle cost analyses, allowing the analysis period to be extended up to 40 years from the current 20 years.

They also recommended research that would incorporate sustainability, resilience, and albedo effects on runway length requirements to be included in the research program. Inclusion of these factors would highlight some of the benefits of concrete pavements.

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