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By Donna Speidel

    Crossbreeding is generally attempted due to a perceived benefit. Beefalo (cross between cattle and buffalo) and Geeps (cross between sheep and goats) are two examples I found searching Google (cross between goose and eagle). I can't imagine why those crossbreeds were thought to be beneficial, but I'm sure there's sound reasoning behind them.

    There have been murmurs of crossbreeding in the aviation industry as well. During our forum-style Airfield Marking Symposiums we've heard airports don't have suitable equipment to paint their own airfields because of budget constraints. An airport operator in attendance said "I can get ten snowplows, but I can't get one paint truck. I need to slap a plow blade on the front of a paint truck, and maybe then it would become AIP eligible!" Enter the PaintPlow: 50% paint truck, 50% snow plow, 90% AIP eligible, and 100% fictional, this crossbreed is just what the industry needs.

    The Airport Improvement Program (AIP) provides funds for snowplows and sweepers, but no striping or rubber/paint removal equipment. Per the FAA, "Marking maintenance is not eligible." Those things that are eligible are "capital items serving to develop and improve the airport in areas of safety, capacity, and noise compatibility." (FAA AIP Handbook).

    Markings are mandatory per Advisory Circular 150/5340-1K, and maintenance is necessary every few years, depending on the airport's environment and frequency of operations. Markings that are ineffective are a safety issue. Some airports have to repaint their centerline frequently because black rubber obscures the centerline. But the FAA will only help to pay for markings when they are installed during an AIP-funded new construction project.

    In spite of the ineligibility of equipment used for operational purposes, though, snowplows, sweepers, and similar equipment are generally available through the program. Why? Because that equipment "meets the safety criteria." One might argue that airfield markings and their maintenance would be a safety concern as well - and heavy rubber deposits, too. In fact, the majority of Part 139 airports have some safety concerns with their markings; they just don't know it.

    Striping equipment should be considered eligible; after all, someone convinced the FAA snowplows and sweepers were. But that's a battle that many have fought to no avail, as yet. So inventive airport operators who don't have funds to either buy the equipment or pay a contractor to keep their markings up to FAA standards may be fantasizing about a crossbreed for awhile longer.

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