ABCs of Runway Safety

Did you know that a 4th runway is being built in Incheon Airport? Not only will it be possible to reduce congestion and manage flights more systematically, but airplanes will also be able to take off and land more safely.

Incheon Airport is making a lot of effort into management in addition to the new runway construction. One of the most important jobs of Incheon Airport is helping airplanes take off and land safely on the runway. This post takes a look at how Incheon Airport manages its runways so that it can function properly

Runway Management #1: Automated FOD Detection System

Why is it important for airports to regularly inspect their runways? Because runways are the most important facilities of airdomes. On regular reads, small foreign objects do not interfere with the operation of the vehicles, but it may cause a fatal accident on airport runways!

Foreign object debris (FOD) includes not only concrete fragments and metals, but also pieces coming off of paved runways and other foreign matter generated during operation. In particular, airplane engines rotate at extreme speed with incredible force, and there may be serious accident or damage if small pieces of concrete or other FOD are sucked into the engines. Thus, it is important to pay close attention and be safe than sorry.

Incheon Airport regularly inspects for any FOD and facility damage. So far, visual inspections have been conducted to check for FOD, but studies are being conducted to identify FOD more thoroughly. In particular, the Airport Industry Technology Research Institute is currently developing an automated FOD detection system that can automatically detect FOD up to 2 cm in size on runways. It will be fully deployed starting from 2021, and it will surely help manage runways more safely.

Runway Management #2: Measuring Surface Friction

For good take-off and landing, it is important to skid on runways to an acceptable extent.

To do so, Incheon Airport is measuring runway surface friction. Friction is measured by an airport surface friction tester (ASFT) as in the photo below.

Since their landing distance may decrease if airplanes slip during landing, it is important to measure and maintain friction regularly. During winter, runway friction is measured after snow removal, and such information is provided to relevant authorities.

The runway friction coefficient is recorded on a graph connected to the ASFT. This information enables a safe flights operation! If a runway is slippery too much or less, rubber sediments on paved runway surfaces are removed in addition to maintenance.

Runway Management #3: Smart Paving

To manage runways better, their foundation must be robust. Did you know that safety-enhancing techniques are applied to runway construction?

Incheon Airport introduced the smart echelon paving method in constructing its 4th runway. This technique was introduced for the first time during the construction of the 3rd runway.

The center part of runways (24 m) can become week easily as an airplane’s load concentrates on it. The technique paves this part of the runway without any cold joints.

It can improve runway paving quality and minimize FOD caused by runway damage. This method is sure to further enhance safety and runway capacity.

We have so far looked at how Incheon Airport manages its runways. As airplane safety is related to passenger safety, Incheon Airport will keep taking care of runways more thoroughly!

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