Airport surface roughness is controlled very closely during construction, and contractors are held to high standards, including maximum variances along the longitudinal and transverse axes of new runway and taxiway construction. However, once construction is complete, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not have a reliable method to determine when airport pavement deteriorates to the point of becoming too rough for use. To develop a method for evaluating in-service pavement roughness, a rating scale for pilots’ subjective response to vertical cockpit vibrations excited by longitudinal pavement surface elevation disturbances was created.
Cherokee CRC began work on the Airport Pavement Surface Roughness Study with the FAA in September 2008 using the FAA’s Boeing 737-800 full flight simulator in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Boeing 737-800 simulator’s roughness model was modified to allow the use of real-world airport surface roughness profiles and to increase the fidelity of the ground model response to roughness. A methodology was developed for presenting surface roughness profiles and obtaining pilot roughness evaluations. Test scenarios, roughness rating forms, and pre-brief and post-flight sessions were developed and refined during a series of pilot studies in 2010 and 2011. The National Cooperative Highway Research Program highway rideability studies were reviewed and used as models for developing the airport pavement rideability studies.
Authors: Skip Hudspeth; David Stapleton; Jeard Ballew; and John Sparkman, PMP