What is the difference between concrete and asphalt runway?

The article aims to answer the question, “What is the difference between concrete and asphalt runway?”. It will also explain why asphalt is preferred for runways. Read on to know more:

What is the difference between concrete and asphalt runway?

Continue reading the article to understand the difference between concrete and asphalt runway:

Installation of a concrete surface requires more time, and costing more money. The initial outlay is higher as well. It’s stronger in most cases, yet it cracks more easily. This may lead to more frequent maintenance and higher repair bills.

Conversely, since asphalt uses a petroleum-based binder, concrete is more eco-friendly. Unlike the more malleable asphalt, it doesn’t distort as easily under high temperatures. Additionally, with regular upkeep, it might be less costly overall while being more expensive initially.

Interestingly, as reported on Aviation Stack Exchange, some asphalt runways contain concrete reinforcements beneath. Rehabilitative programs often include layering activities. Concrete is often laid over asphalt on runways because asphalt provides a sturdy foundation that reduces the likelihood of cracking in the concrete.

These are often at their greatest depth in high-traffic places, such as the terminals of runways where jumbo jets and another very heavy aircraft land. Planes taxiing or taking off must bear the weight of their fuel tanks and the aircraft itself.

Airport engineers consider several factors while deciding on a runway surface, such as weather, traffic, and availability of building materials. Both are valid options, and each has its advantages. JFK Airport in New York City boasts a variety of flooring options (three concrete runways and one with asphalt).

What type of runways are asphalt runways?

Two-lane highways in rural areas are usually always paved with asphalt. This is because asphalt roads cost less to construct and maintain than other materials. But they aren’t designed to handle as much traffic as major thoroughfares.

Counties prefer asphalt roads because they may be built without a flat basis, but cement roads have to have a perfectly flat base laid down beforehand. The primary factor is traffic volume: for modest loads, asphalt is preferable, and cement is more practical for large loads. 

But if the bottom is properly prepared, any surface may be utilized. And how effectively the foundation is constructed is the key to how much the highway will cost. Compared to highways, country roads are seldom given a thick foundation layer of asphalt.

Therefore, all the information about roads is relevant to runways; it only depends on the kind of aircraft that will be using the runway. The larger the plane, the more substantial the pavement must be and the more thorough the foundation preparation.

Asphalt runways may service lighter planes. Cement runways are being constructed to accommodate the large and heavy machinery.

Why are most runways made of asphalt and not concrete?

Flexible surfaces include asphalt, whereas stiff ones include concrete. Runway, taxiway, and apron surfaces may be rated by their strength according to the Pavement Classification Number (PCN), which is a standard used in conjunction with the Aircraft Classification Number (ACN) (ramp).

Extreme temperature changes, both hot and cold, may cause cracks in exposed concrete. Installation and maintenance costs are higher as well. However, depending on the new airport’s location, they may be less expensive to construct if the concrete is laid elsewhere.

As a surface, concrete can withstand increased foot activity in the near run. However, this results in a much rougher road surface. The Europeans who visit the United States often remark on how different the road surfaces are. Some stretches of highway in the United Kingdom were constructed out of concrete in the 1960s, and drivers there often dislike them. 

At least in the United Kingdom, I don’t think concrete is used for road construction anymore for this reason. This may be less of a problem in the United States because of the very pliant suspension systems used in most American cars.

When holes appear in concrete, not only are they deeper and more jagged, but they are also far more difficult to fix. The road’s surface will never be completely level, even after repairs. 

Because of this, roads in the northern United States and most of Europe, where freezing and thawing occur often, are less suited to concrete. In addition, areas that suffer high daytime temperatures are not ideal for using concrete because of its thermal expansion problems (or at least this needs to be considered during construction).

What is a runway?

A runway is a paved or concrete area at an airport where planes may take off and land safely. Depending on the airport, this space may consist of little more than a narrow patch of grass, dirt, or sand. However, asphalt and concrete are often used to construct airport runways.

Runway paving is similar to roads in that it directly impacts the safety of both drivers and airport employees. The Federal Aviation Administration inspects U.S. airports annually, but the airport also does its examinations every day.

Since these are visual inspections performed by professionals, there is always a chance that some pavement defects may go undetected. This was the situation at Aberdeen Airport, so Ferrovial Airports stepped up and developed a tool to help those doing this work make fewer mistakes. 

To better track the pavements’ current state and future development, our Airport division collaborated with Vaisala, a Finnish firm specializing in environmental and industrial monitoring, to create an AI tool called VIOMINER.

Safety inspections are essential, but they also have a direct impact on the airport’s bottom line. Without regular maintenance, runways incur increased repair costs and the opportunity cost of being closed for repairs.

To keep the runway closed for as little time as possible during regenerative construction, the process must be conducted three times quicker than on the road. It takes a large army of workers in continuous shifts of 24 hours each to complete this building.

For the runway rehabilitation at Madrid’s Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport, Ditecpesa provided Ferrovial Construction with 300 tons of polymer-modified bitumen per day for paving purposes. With a combined effort of 24 hours every day for five days, we could regenerate 70,000 tons of flexible pavement.

Conclusion 

Asphalt pavement is the most common material used in the construction of airport runways. Most runways at general aviation airports are asphalt. Because of how quickly it can be built, asphalt is a great material for rehabilitating high-traffic airport infrastructure.

Runways and aircraft handling areas at airports of all sizes and types—from large international airports used by the heaviest airliners to smaller domestic airfields used by light or medium-sized aircraft to the smallest private airfield used by light single- or twin-seat aircraft—are typically surfaced with asphalt mixtures.

Because of its operational versatility, asphalt has proven to be a popular paving material for airport runways, allowing for early high-impact operations. When constructed properly, asphalt can endure the rigorous use of airfield sites for decades, and the industry’s commitment to constant innovation means that this will continue to be the case.

Frequently asked questions (FAQS): What is the difference between concrete and asphalt runway?

What is the difference between concrete and asphalt runway?

Installation of a concrete surface requires more time and costs more money. The initial outlay is higher as well. It’s stronger in most cases, yet it cracks more easily. This may lead to more frequent maintenance and higher repair bills.

Conversely, since asphalt uses a petroleum-based binder, concrete is more eco-friendly. Unlike the more malleable asphalt, it doesn’t distort as easily under high temperatures. Additionally, with regular upkeep, it might be less costly overall while being more expensive initially.

What type of runways are asphalt runways?

Two-lane highways in rural areas are usually always paved with asphalt. This is because asphalt roads cost less to construct and maintain than other materials. But they aren’t designed to handle as much traffic as major thoroughfares.

Counties prefer asphalt roads because they may be built without a flat basis, but cement roads have to have a perfectly flat base laid down beforehand. The primary factor is traffic volume: for modest loads, asphalt is preferable, and cement is more practical for large loads. 

Why are most runways made of asphalt and not concrete?

Flexible surfaces include asphalt, whereas stiff ones include concrete. Runway, taxiway, and apron surfaces may be rated by their strength according to the Pavement Classification Number (PCN), which is a standard used in conjunction with the Aircraft Classification Number (ACN) (ramp).

Extreme temperature changes, both hot and cold, may cause cracks in exposed concrete. Installation and maintenance costs are higher as well. However, depending on the new airport’s location, they may be less expensive to construct if the concrete is laid elsewhere.

Bibliography

What is a Runway or landing strip? Ferrovial. Retrieved from: https://www.ferrovial.com/en/resources/landing-strip/

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Leave a Comment