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Airport Pavement Design

Airport pavement is designed to withstand the stresses imparted to the pavement by aircraft. Depending on the use and local ground conditions, materials are chosen to construct the runway. For a major airport, where the ground conditions permit, the most satisfactory type of pavement for long-term minimum maintenance is concrete. Although certain airports have used reinforcement in concrete pavements, this is generally found to be unnecessary, with the exception of expansion joints across the runway where a dowel assembly, which permits relative movement of the concrete slabs, is placed in the concrete. 

Asphalt Wearing Course for Pavement
Where it can be anticipated that major settlements of the runway will occur over the years because of unstable ground conditions, it is preferable to install asphaltic concrete surface, as it is easier to patch on a periodic basis. For fields with very low traffic of light planes, it is possible to use a sod surface. Some runways also make use of salt flat runways.
Metal Forms for Concrete Apron Construction at Oakland Airport
For heavy-duty commercial aircraft, the pavement thickness, no matter what the top surface, varies from 10 in (250 mm) to 4 ft (1 m), including subgrade. These is determined by the subgrade condition (determined by borings). The specifications are established from the relative bearing capacity of the subgrade.
Polymer modified asphalt (PMA)as asphalt surface layers at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Characteristics and size of the landing gear is very important for pavement design. Manufacturers of the larger planes design landing gear so that the weight of the plane is supported on larger and more numerous tires. Attention is paid to the characteristics of the landing gear itself, so that adverse effects on the pavement are minimized. Sometimes it is possible to reinforce a pavement for higher loading by applying an overlay of asphaltic concrete or portland cement concrete that is bonded to the original slab. 
Heavily Loaded Airfield Pavement
Post-tensioning concrete has been developed for the runway surface. This permits the use of thinner pavements and should result in longer concrete pavement life. Because of the susceptibility of thinner pavements to frost heave, this process is generally applicable only where there is no appreciable frost action.

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