Assessing the Condition of Our Texas Airports

This is a graphic of an aiport condition inventory.

The above graphic is an example of an airport condition survey diagram. Green indicates an excellent pavement condition.

Texas is home to nearly 300 general aviation (GA) airports that stretch from the upper corner of the Panhandle down to the Rio Grande Valley. Overseeing this expanse of airports is the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Aviation Division, which is responsible for the planning and programming, engineering project management and grant management for what is among the largest state airport systems in the country. For more than three decades, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) has supported the mission of the Aviation Division through various efforts.

One of the ongoing research efforts is visiting the airports to research and assess the condition of the pavements, lighting, slope indicators and other landing aids.

TTI Engineering Research Associate Tom Freeman has traveled throughout the state visiting airports and uses his expertise in pavement management research to provide TxDOT with the information they need to make decisions about which airports need assistance.

“I perform an inventory and condition survey using MicroPAVER,” says Freeman.

MicroPAVER is a system that uses inspection data and a pavement condition index rating from zero (failed) to 100 (excellent) for describing a pavement’s condition and for predicting its future maintenance needs.

This is a photo of the edge of a runway.

Part of the condition survey includes taking photos of the runways, taxiways and other pavements throughout the airport.

“My survey involves visually inspecting the pavements and also taking videos and pictures. Then I input data into the MicroPAVER system and develop a diagram,” says Freeman. “The diagram is color coded, with green indicating an excellent condition and red closer to failure.”

All told, Freeman will visit around 100 GA airports in Texas this year. The information he will provide TxDOT will help them to shape their future maintenance plans and ensure Texas retains its excellent GA airport system, which is considered one of the best in the country.

For more information about Texas GA airports, visit TxDOT’s directory.