How often should runways get maintenance?

How often should runways get maintenance?
June 18 10:23 2018 Print This Article

Runway maintenance in major airports is crucial.  It is such a high priority that most major airports make inspections of their runways several times in a day.  You will often see a FOD sweeper quickly cleaning around to create a dry, clean and undamaged surface. Therefore, A FOD Sweeper is a very important equipment that ensures all stones, gravel, nails, luggage hardware, sand, nuts and bolts, pavement fragments, and any other ferrous compounds are not anywhere near the runway.

Pavement maintenance

The pavement requires frequent replacement on its top surface. This depends on certain conditions such as the weather and the type of pavement. Asphalt, for example, gets severely damaged when it’s snowing and gets less viscous when it is hot. Some airports assign maintenance independence in the organizational chart and their own personal resources after a thorough assessment of all airport facilities and infrastructure.

It is recommended that pavement maintenance is managed by a pavement expert, civil engineer and aerodrome engineer with abroad experience and knowledge of pavement repair.


Repair or maintenance can be difficult especially in large airports like JFK without interfering with traffic. Therefore, resurfacing a whole runway could take a long time. Rather than closing the airports, they try to make periodic maintenance mainly at night. However, some operations cannot be done in a single night and may require the airport to close for some days.

The French airport Orly, for example, gets one slab of concrete replaced each night on the runway. This way, the airport can be renovated every year on average without distracting traffic.

Maintenance operations

Most damages done by big planes are handled on a daily basis or as soon as they happen. Aircraft manufacturers moreover have tried to design a landing gear which helps reduce the impact and damage done to the runway. Below are some of the maintenance operations done on the runway.

  •  Repainting: Markings sometimes need to be done for visibility when taking off or landing.
  • Removing rubber: Aircraft often skid when taking off and leave rubber on the runway.
  • Checking for foreign objects on the runway: This is done several times a day by sweeping the runway using a FOD Sweeper.
  • Repairing cracks: This prevents water from building in as they may cause long-term catastrophes.
  • Trimming the grass around the runway: The grass should be 2 to 4 inches high.
  • Clearing the water paths: Water cannot be left to build up as it would reduce stopping distance.
  • Checking and cleaning the approach light systems and visual aids: These get dirty with tartar, rubber, and dirt.
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Clare Louise
Clare Louise

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