This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Airports Council International (ACI) has issued an advisory bulletin listing “best practices” to help airports mitigate the risks created by the needed to park large numbers of aircraft during the Covid-19 crisis. Travel restrictions introduced in response to the pandemic have made finding overflow locations to park aircraft a challenge, posing risks to infrastructure such as damage from the use of pavement in a way not originally intended, aircraft damage from foreign object debris (FOD) or collision, and runway or taxiway incursion.
The bulletin highlights the risk of pavement deterioration posed by static loads from aircraft over a prolonged period—especially on flexible pavement—and fuel or oil spills during aircraft maintenance. ACI’s recommendations include continuously monitoring and updating plans centered on locations for long-, intermediate-, and short-term parking; safety considerations related to parking options on obstacle limitation surfaces (OLS) and operations; clearance distances between aircraft; non-standard parking locations for overflow parking such as runways and taxiways; and notification procedures and safety measures for non-standard parking.
ACI recommends that airports and airlines exhaust all space at gates, ramps, and aprons first and opt for concrete pavement for long-term parking rather than asphalt surfaces.
Key aspects of lessening the risks of overflow parking include an assessment of pavement strength to accommodate loads. ACI recommends carrying out technical analyses before overloading pavements by more than 10 percent relative to reported pavement strength.
Next, ACI stresses the need to make aircraft as light as possible by unloading anything safe to remove without jeopardizing wind resistance. Operators can distribute loads of a larger contact area by deflating tires, but not more than recommended by the manufacturer.
Finally, ACI recommends regular inspection of pavement condition for deterioration and documentation of depressions on flexible pavements under wheels, ripples and bumps, puncturing in the case of inadequate pavement design, and signs of damage from fuel leakage.
Once normal operations resume, airport operators should consider re-certification of runway and taxiway pavements used to park aircraft during the pandemic, said ACI.