(Nov. 17, 2015) In the overnight hours this week, the Airport is undergoing a maintenance project that few get a chance to see up close: Removing rubber off of the runways left by airplane tires. The Airport has contracted with WaterBlasting.com who uses high-pressure water spray to remove the rubber that builds up on the runways over time.
The rubber removal airfield project is done every six months and is required maintenance as part of the FAA certification process.
Airfield Maintenance Superintendent Chuck Allen says that historically, about 7,500 pounds of rubber is removed from the runways annually. And Allen says that although it sounds like a simple project, it is essential that the equipment be carefully monitored during the process. The truck is blasting the water at approximately 28 thousand psi and can damage the runway.
“It is a very tricky process,” said Allen. “The machine has to be going at just the right speed to accurately perform the rubber removal and not damage the concrete below. If the machine were to stay in place too long, it would blast right into the runway and damage the surface.”
Once the rubber removal is complete, the center lines are repainted on the runway using special paint applied with reflective glass beads. Allen said that the painting project is also done to very exact standards to ensure FAA compliance. It takes about 10 pounds of glass beads for every one gallon of paint applied to reach the correct formula.
During both the rubber removal and the painting, each runway must be closed for about four hours per night until the project is complete.