Airport Obligations: Pavement Maintenance

Central Regional Airports Division

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Public Law 103-305, section 107, amended Title 49, Section 47105, of the United States Code by requiring sponsor assurances that address preventative maintenance for project applications involving airfield pavements. For any project to replace or reconstruct pavement, the sponsor must provide assurance to the FAA that they have implemented an effective pavement maintenance management program. The amendment also provides for Sponsor submittal of reports that address the condition of their pavement condition and the status of their pavement management program.

The requirement to establish a pavement maintenance management program applies to any Sponsor who has received federal assistance to construct, reconstruct, or repair airfield pavement. Every grant agreement that addresses pavement rehabilitation or reconstruction contains a grant assurance that incorparates the obligation for a pavement maintenance program.

Benefits of Pavement Maintenance

The goal of any maintenance program is to provide a safe and operable pavement system at the least feasible cost. An effective maintenance program will provide the owner with sufficient information to allow them to assess how to obtain the greatest return for funds they expend.

A pavement life cycle curve illustrates the useable life of a pavement by comparing pavement condition versus time. In the first several years of a pavements life, the deterioration in pavement condition over time is relatively low. However, at certain point in time, the deterioration of the pavement increases, resulting in an accelerated drop in pavement condition.

Typical Pavement Life Cycle Curve Showing Pavement Condition Moving from Good to Failed Over Time. Condition Decreases and Rehabilitation Cost Rises from $1 to $4 or $5 More Quickly as the Condition Goes from Fair to Failed.
Figure 1 - Typical Pavement Live Cycle Curve

This pavement life cycle curve demonstrates that $1 spent for preventative maintenance early in the pavement life is equivalent to $4 to $5 spent later in the pavement life. The intent of the maintenance program is to keep the condition of the pavement high with the least amount of expenditures. Timely maintenance can renew the pavement condition and prolong the life of the pavement. The benefit of the maintenance program is determining the optimum time to effectively apply funds. It is more economical to apply limited funds to a pavement when the condition is relatively fair rather than to apply a greater amount of funds to improve pavement from a very poor or failed condition.

Pavement Maintenance Program (PMP)

An effective pavement maintenance management program is one that details the procedures the Sponsor should implement to assure proper pavement maintenance. This includes both preventative and repair actions. The program must address key elements that will permit proper tracking of pavement maintenance activities. As with all endeavors, in order to succeed, the owner must commit to providing sufficient resources to their maintenance program.

An acceptable program must, as a minimum, address the following elements:

  1. Pavement Inventory
    Depict the following in an appropriate format and level of detail:
    • Location of all runways, taxiways, and aprons
    • Type of pavement
    • Dimensions
    • Year of construction or most recent major rehabilitation

    For compliance with the Airport Improvement Program assurances, identify pavements that have been constructed, reconstructed, or repaired with Federal financial assistance.
  2. Inspection Schedule
    1. Detailed Inspection. Airport owner must perform a detailed inspection at least once a year. If a history of recorded pavement deterioration is available such as by a Pavement Condition Index (PCI) survey (Advisory Circular 150/5380-6. Guidelines and Procedures for Maintenance of Airport Pavements), the Airport Owner may increase the frequency of inspections to evervy 3 years.
    2. Drive-by Inspection. Airport Owner must conduct a drive-by inspection a minimum of once per month for the purpose of detecting unexpected changes in the pavement condition.
  3. Record Keeping
    The Airport Owner must maintain a record of all detailed inspections and any maintenance activity they perform. They must keep this information on file for a minimum of five years. The information should document the types of distress, their locations, and any remedial action taken, scheduled or performed. The minimum information to be recorded is listed below.
    1. Inspection date
    2. Location
    3. Distress types
    4. Maintenance scheduled or performed

    For drive-by inspections, record the date of inspection and any maintenance that was performed.
  4. Information Retrieval
    An airport sponsor may use any form of record keeping it deems appropriate provided the information and records that results from the pavement surveys can quickly be retrieved to provide upon request by the FAA.
  5. Reference
    Refer to Advisory Circular 150/5380-6, Guidelines and Procedures for Maintenance of Airport Pavements for specific information for maintaining airport pavements and establishing an effective maintenance program. This Advisory Circular also addresses specific types of distress, their probable causes, inspection guidelines, and recommended methods of repair.

Guidance for Developing a Pavement Maintenance Program

The FAA does not prescribe the exact format of the program. The Sponsor may establish their Pavement Maintenance Program (PMP) electronically or by hardcopy. Each airport should customize the collected information to best fit the needs, conditions, and resources of the airport. The selected system should allow an airport to develop an initial program that can evolve over time.

Costs associated with the preparation of PMPs are eligible under a planning grant, assuming they are reasonalbe and necessary. Costs associated with acquiring software to faciltiate a pavement maintenance program are not generally eligible.

The FAA Central Region has prepared guidance to assist airport operators in preparing a basic pavement maintenance program. This guidance does not provide a complete program that a Sponsor can immediately apply to their airports. Larger facilities will likely require a more extensive program to ensure proper tracking of their maintenance information.


Advisory Circulars

  • AC 150/5380-6 - Guidelines and Procedures for Maintenance of Airport Pavements


Suggested formats for date collection and reporting

  • Pavement Inventory Template: MS Word (29 KB), PDF (26 KB)
  • Pavement Inspection Template: MS Word (43 KB), PDF (160 KB)



Last updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2022