Asheville Regional Airport was in a quandary. Its lone runway was worn and in need of repairs. However, there was no way the airport could shut down, rip up its runway and lay down a new one without an adverse effect on all businesses and airport users.
The airport came to the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation looking for assistance. Through the division’s Airport Pavement Management Program, the 8,001-foot runway was repaired, granting the airport time needed to plan for a total runway overhaul.
“The airport is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to program a new runway, but that can take years,” said DOA Director Richard Walls. “Our program has helped extend the life of the pavement for a few years, giving them time to program, design and build a new runway while the current one is still in good condition.”
David Nantz, the airport’s director of operations and maintenance, worked with NCDOT Airport Engineer Phil Lanier, who oversaw the $250,000 project. The airport saved money working with the DOA contractors already in place through a statewide contract. Lanier brought in Chemtek of Yanceyville, a company that uses a biodegradable enzyme solution that eats away at the rubber buildup from plane tires. HASCO Inc. of Greensboro put down the coating that seeped into the runway surface to make it more elastic and sturdy. HASCO also remarked the runway using a waterborne paint with Biocide, which prevents algae and mold from sticking to the surface.
In a blog post on the airport’s website, the process was compared to a cleansing and exfoliation, body masque and deep tissue massage at a spa (http://flyavl.com/blog/why-yes-we-did-exfoliate-our-runway).
“We asked the DOT for help painting the runway about 10 years ago,” said Nantz. “In this case, we were in a waiting game (with the FAA). Our asphalt was getting older and was at the point where if we didn’t fix it, it would get brittle. This process will buy us time before we need to do something significant.”
In order to prevent any daily flight delays, the work was done overnight for nearly two months and was completed on Aug. 24. The surface had time to cure before any flights took off or landed. The same timeframe was used for the prior runway marking project as well.
“The project turned out perfectly,” Lanier said. “The airport had a limited budget and we have the expertise to do the work. We provided jobs for local companies to preserve the existing infrastructure while using strategic materials and techniques to get longer lasting results. Everyone's very happy.”
Walls said with finances at a premium, NCDOT has to work harder and smarter with the limited resources to maintain the state’s aviation infrastructure. This program allows the division to stretch its maintenance dollars.
“We don’t have enough money to replace runways,” Walls said. “We have to work smarter in order to buy time using a robust pavement management system. This allows the runways to last longer, with the end result being a significant cost savings for everyone.”
Nantz said taking advantage of NCDOT’s statewide contracts with local companies allowed the airport to get a better price on the project, which in turn gives Western North Carolina a better facility for both commercial and general aviation flights in the facility. He was also impressed with the level of service and care the DOA provided.
“Phil had the experience of doing it right,” Nantz said. “He was very particular on how he wanted it done, and was out here every step of the way. It was done to a high standard, and DOA was incredible to work with.”
The maintenance program helps airports maintain their runways, taxiways and aprons. The NCDOT Aviation Statewide Plans and Programs Group identify airports that would benefit and then uses local construction and testing companies. On average, about 20 projects a year are completed, with the vast majority coming from the state’s 63 general aviation airports. Unlike Asheville Regional, GA airports can shut down while the project is being completed.
For more information on the Airport Pavement Management Program and the Division of Aviation, please call (919) 840-0112 or go to www.ncdot.gov/aviation