Researchers from the University of Sunshine Coast (USC) will investigate the latest technologies and practices to make runway surfaces and airport pavements last longer as part of a new five-year, $2.85 million study.
The research program is a partnership between USC and the Australian Airports Association (AAA), the Department of Defence, Perth Airport and Sunshine Coast Council (as the owner of Sunshine Coast Airport).
USC researcher Doctor Greg White, who will be the director of the program, said the study was timely given the planned construction of new runways at a number of airports around the country, including at Sunshine Coast Airport.
“It’s a great time to undertake this research and support its implementation at a number of major airport developments,” Dr White said in a statement.
“This is the first nationally-funded, coordinated research program into airport pavements since Australia’s major airports were privatised in the 1990s, so it’s a fantastic opportunity for USC to innovate in collaboration with industry and Defence.”
Brisbane Airport’s new parallel runway is currently under construction, while Melbourne Tullamarine, Perth and Sunshine Coast are all planning to build new runways in the years ahead.
Also, the proposed new airport at Badgerys Creek in Sydney’s west is forecast to open in the mid-2020s.
USC said the research program would include Master’s and PhD students, as well as postdoctoral researchers, and feature on-the-ground trials at Perth and Sunshine Coast airports.
The university said the study would look at performance-based specification of runway surfaces, advanced test methods for bitumen and asphalt materials, non-destructive testing for runway strength rating, surface preservation material evaluation, and methods for comparing the costs and benefits of concrete and asphalt runways.
Dr White said there had been “little coordinated advancement in runway construction and maintenance in recent decades, despite innovations in design, materials and technologies and immense changes in aircraft”.
The research program was launched on Tuesday by USC Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Roland De Marco and Australian Airports Association chief executive Caroline Wilkie.