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Airports Need Tarmacadam Surfacing for their Runways!

Airports Need Tarmacadam Surfacing for their Runways!

Almost every airport now uses tarmacadam surfacing on their runways; it provides a safe, durable and robust surface which planes can use to take off from and also land onto. Without such surfacing it would be extremely hard for the airport to function and there have been numerous delays in the past caused when runways require maintenance or repair.

Macadam surfacing which is sometimes called tarmac or tarmacadam consists of a number of similarly sized stones which are then rolled or compacted into place and then sealed with an asphalt treatment that will then penetrate deep into the uppermost portion of the surface thus creating a tarmacadam surface. Sometimes it is coated with tar or bitumen and usually such surfaces are around 1 to 2 inches thick.

How Long is an Airport Runway?

A question which is frequently asked by many and maybe the answer will surprise you! Runway dimensions vary greatly according to the size of the planes which fly from them however, we have selected the top 5 busiest airports in the UK to look at their tarmac runway lengths.

  • London Gatwick Airport has a runway 3,316m in length which is 2.060 miles and 45m wide.
  • London Heathrow Airport has two runways their Northern runway measures 3,902m which is 2.424 miles and they have their Southern runway which measures 3,660m which is 2.274 miles and both of the runways are 50m wide.
  • Manchester Airport has two parallel runways each 3,048 metres in length which 1.893 miles and one of them is 45m wide and the other is 48m wide.
  • London Stansted Airport has one runway which is 3,048 metres in length which is 1.893 miles the same as Manchester although it is 46m wide.
  • Edinburgh Airport has two runways one which is 2560 metres in length so 1.590 miles long, their second runway is 1798 metres in length which is 1.117 miles and both runways are 46m wide.

The largest runway in the world belongs to Qamdo Bamda Airport in China and this measures a staggering 5,500 metres in length which is 3.417 miles long and it is 46 metres wide. The shortest commercial runway in the world measures just 396 metres in length which is 0.246 miles and belongs to Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport based on the Caribbean island of Saba and thus requiring fewer tarmacadam surfaces.

Obviously airport runway surfacing is a particular specialism and needs to be done correctly otherwise safety can be compromised and lives put at risk. They need to be resurfaced with high performance materials and all standard UK Airports have to have their surfaces grooved as stated in the UK Standards if they are not grooved then they are classed as non-compliant and this can cause major problems even closure of the runway.

The purpose of runway grooving is so that hydroplaning is eliminated on runways which are wet due to weather conditions and so it’s important that the tarmacadam surface is grooved. Macadam surfaces when grooved have shown remarkable improvement in relation to aeroplane handling and stopping characteristics than other non-grooved surfaces.

It goes without saying that tarmac is invaluable for airports when used for their runways. For more information about tarmacadam surfacing for airport runways speak to us today at DCM Surfaces.