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Haste Makes Waste

By Donna Speidel

    Over the last few years, maintenance personnel from all over the world have attended our Airfield Marking Symposiums. Irrespective of their individual backgrounds, nearly all share a similar story when they come to our training courses: "We are always hurried when we paint our markings."

    Amid those stories are several choice quotes that have been directed at the crews responsible for maintaining markings including:

  1. "Whatever you're doing doesn't matter as much as the airport's schedule."
  2. "A monkey can do that work faster; why is it taking you so long?"
  3. "It's just paint, how hard can that be?"
  4. "So what if markings are peeling, paint over it anyway."
  5. "I don't care if it lasts, it just needs to pass inspection next week."

    We understand the demands placed on airport operations (typically from management and ATC), and that time for maintenance is precious. However, haste makes waste - there's a balance that must be found.

    For way too many years (maybe always) most airports have hurried airfield marking maintenance. And it's mostly because markings are perceived as "incidental". As stated in the Airfield Marking Handbook:

Airfield markings are a small component of a large construction project; often they are incidental to the overall job. And as a maintenance item on an airport manager's to-do list, markings are often either over or under maintained. ...When the process is done well, the markings can perform effectively for up to five years or more. When the process is done poorly, the markings can fail within weeks or months. So although markings may be an incidental item in a large airfield project, they can pose as a significant problem when performance is shortened and safety is compromised. The added cost to the airport's budget to maintain the markings more often than necessary could be redistributed to other, more pressing needs.

    Putting paint on airfield pavement is not rocket science, but there are right and wrong ways of doing it; and it's not as easy as it looks. There are several ingredients to do it the right way - one is to allow enough time to do it well. The rest of the recipe can be found at the Airfield Marking Symposiums - it's OK if you hurry to sign up!

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