Tackling Weather-Related Runway Problems

By John Croft
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
February 03, 2014

This month, the FAA will begin a series of “contaminated” runway tests with a retired Boeing 727 at its William J. Hughes technical center in Atlantic City, N.J. Taxiing on 230-300-ft.-long “test strips” of 2-in.-deep “manufactured snow,” created by feeding ice blocks into a gasoline-powered chipping machine, the 727 will test a variety of new technologies aimed at providing pilots more information and training to deal with compromised surfaces.

In the U.S., much of the research stems from the December 2005 overrun of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 on a snow-covered runway at Chicago Midway International Airport. In Germany, the excursion of an Atlas Air Boeing 747-200 off the end of a snow-covered runway at Dusseldorf International Airport in January 2005 helped drive research and change in Europe. But despite nearly a decade of effort, runway contamination—how it is reported and how pilots plan for and respond to it—continues to be a vexing problem.

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