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Following the Sixth ICAO Africa (AFI) Aviation Weekin May 2019, it’s encouraging to see the growing interest and efforts in runway safety for the region – and how it’s impacting on the continents overall economic growth.


Africa is now the world’s fastest improving continent in terms of ICAO compliance and aviation safety, which is something the global teams at Roadgrip Airports have observed.


Airfield rubber removal plays a major part in the ongoing maintenance and safety of runways.  As air traffic continues to increase in Africa, the correct measures for removing tyre deposits will need to be amplified throughout the region to keep friction at optimum levels for safe aircraft landings.


How much rubber is deposited on runways?


Each time an aircraft lands on the runway, it deposits roughly 450g of rubber.  Over a relatively short time, this rubber builds up on the airfield surface and reduces friction, which can increase the risk of aquaplaning and significantly lengthen braking distances.


Cost in this region is a major factor for those planning airfield maintenance, so choosing the correct methods for rubber removal is essential to minimise additional costs in the future.


What is the best way to remove rubber from airfields?


The most effective and long-term cost-efficient way to remove the rubber is by hydroblasting (ultra-high pressure water blasting). Unlike more abrasive measures, a water blasting machine removes rubber, grease and apron oil without damaging the asphalt underneath, thereby saving further costs and downtime in the long-term.


How often should rubber be removed from runways?


According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), rubber removal should be carried out on a weekly basis for airports with 200 daily landings and once a year for lower traffic airports with 15 daily landings.


However, it’s best to conduct continuous friction testing to determine exact frequency, as build-up of rubber will depend on many factors including length of runway and type of aircraft.


Rubber removal should happen during low traffic hours, ideally at night, to minimise disruption to services and air travel.  An experienced rubber removal team will have the latest hydroblasting machinery to clean extensive areas of runway in a short time.


As leading airfield maintenance contractors, Roadgrip Airports work on airfields around the world helping to improve runway safety through friction testing, rubber removal, hydroblasting, runway line marking, paint removal and airfield ground lighting.  Find out more about our airfield maintenance services or take a look at our recent projects to see how we work.