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Earmark AirMark?

By Mike Speidel

    We just wrapped up the second of four 2012 Airfield Marking Symposiums at Newark Liberty International Airport. Thank you to the staff at EWR and the Port Authority for being such wonderful hosts. The demonstrations on the airfield were great - even when you couldn't hear the person next to you speak!

    After the AirMark installation demo was completed by the Port Authority's very own certified applicators, we took a quick peek at the original AirMark test marking installed in August of 2006 on taxiway November. Nearly six years later, the sign is showing its age, but is still functional. In fact, Newark will not replace the marking with another generation of AirMark until it fails completely. They're going to see just how far they can push this material.

    The placement of this sign was not insignificant; Taxiway November is one of Newark's busiest taxiways, especially in the summer. This sign took some serious abuse, all by design. Hundreds of broom passes, snow operations, and heavy traffic have pounded this area over the last six years. It is also rumored that EWR staff would frequently belittle and swear at the surface painted sign to ensure it got every type of abuse to test its fortitude. In each case, the AirMark passed muster.

    At some point in the past, a spinning broom inadvertantly sat on the marking too long and removed a two-inch wide strip down to the concrete. The Port Authority repaired the damaged portion by heating some spare AirMark material and it was as good as new. I've seen the results of snowplows accidentally hitting these markings while removing snow; the area needing repair was smaller than a DVD.

    Since the FAA approved the use of preformed thermoplastic on airfields, it has been touted as being extremely durable. The jury has been out on exactly how durable, but most of the jurors have straggled back in. This stuff lasts, and as you can see from the picture, the red has resisted fading in the New Jersey sun.

    It is relatively expensive to what you're used to in waterborne paint, but if it lasts six years on Taxiway November in Newark, you'll likely get your money's worth. You can see an installation in person at our next symposium.

    Do you want a long-term cost comparison between AirMark and waterborne paint at YOUR airport? Send me an email.

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