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The Goldilocks Zone

By Mike Speidel
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    They've recently redone the television series Cosmos, originally created by Carl Sagan. If you tuned into the original some 35 years ago, then you are probably enjoying the feeling of nostalgia as the updated series unfolds. Like the original, Cosmos looks at the enormity of the universe, where man fits in to the cosmic picture, and makes educated guesswork of the unknown.

    You can't help but to feel tiny and somewhat insignificant after watching 47 DVR'd minutes of how Earth totally lucked out by collecting stardust rocks in the "Goldilocks Zone" only to be later peppered by comets delivering the ice that would eventually produce water, life as we know it, and Part 139. Admittedly, they haven't mentioned the FAR yet, but did refer to the Earth being in the Goldilocks Zone as it is neither too hot nor too cold, but "just right" for life to exist.

    But there's another Goldilocks Zone as it relates to airports' painting cycles. That is, the frequency with which the line markings are "refreshed". Generally speaking, greater numbers of operations seem to correspond with a higher frequency of painting; the opposite also applies.

Too Much - Think of ATL, LAX, and DFW to name a few. These ports are incredibly busy with high volumes of traffic. Areas on the airfield with greater volumes of traffic traditionally require more frequent maintenance (e.g. more paint), which can contribute to adhesion failures and foreign object debris (F.O.D.). Not coincidentally, it's why these airports have recently undergone large-scale paint removal to reduce paint layers and F.O.D. potential.

Not Enough - Think of all the general aviation airports who rely on a contractor to paint once every eight years, or whenever budget allows. Less traffic means less wear for the markings, but it also means less money to maintain them. So often we visit small airports to find the markings in rough shape, which can create (in)visibility issues for users.

Just Right - If Goldilocks were a Sightline consultant, she'd say there's no one painting frequency that's "just right". What's important is for airports of every size to have the tools to critically evaluate markings for effectiveness under all conditions and prescribe the right kind of maintenance only if/when they fail the evaluation.

    With a suitable maintenance strategy in place, you can mitigate paint build up without sacrificing highly visible, great-looking markings. Contact us today to tell us about your marking program and maybe we can help get you in the Goldilocks Zone.

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