Canadian national standards for airport surfaces define the allowable runway surface types as paved or unpaved. Prior to recent changes implemented because of the work described in this paper, paved runways were defined as asphalt concrete or Portland cement concrete pavements. Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways (MoH) partnered with Transport Canada to create new technical guidance document that allows Canadian airport authorities to utilize thin bituminous surfacing as a recognized surface type for paved runways.
MoH has a long and successful history of using thin bituminous surfaces for low volume roads and airports. These surfaces are comprised of two layers of graded aggregate seal coat placed on granular base course and are locally referred to as sealed granular pavements. Since the runways did not meet the previously governing definitions for paved surfaces, aircraft operators using the runways were required to treat them as gravel surfaces. Taking full advantage of these surfaces has important benefits for the Saskatchewan economy because it has the potential to increase aircraft payload. Recognizing the importance of this work, commercial air carrier Rise Air participated with MoH and Transport Canada in the review of sealed granular runways and their performance.
This paper summarizes the work that was completed to evaluate and confirm the suitability of MoH sealed granular surface runways for classification as paved surfaces.
This paper also addresses the key principles of the newly published Guide to Sealed Granular Airport Pavements in Saskatchewan. Further, it introduces a new national standard document published by Transport Canada, the Advisory Circular AC 300-021 Thin Bituminous Surface Runways, which now allows the use of thin bituminous surfacing as paved runways. Now that they have been implemented, these changes can be taken advantage of to benefit provincial, municipal, and private airport and aerodrome operators across the country, and as a result, the Canadian aviation industry as a whole.