Airfield Pavements

RCED-97-50R: Published: Feb 27, 1997. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information about airports' use of coal tar-based pavement products to rejuvenate and prolong the life of aging pavement and seal it against fuels spills, focusing on: (1) whether the sealer/rejuvenator products used on federally funded projects comply with the guidance in the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Engineering Brief 44 (EB-44); and (2) airports' experiences in using these products.

GAO noted that: (1) independent laboratory test results conducted for airports and GAO showed that sealer/rejuvenator products used on federally funded projects comply with FAA's guidance; (2) in monitoring compliance with this guidance, FAA does not conduct its own independent tests of these products or validate that such tests have been done; (3) instead, as with other products approved for Airport Improvement Program funding, FAA relies primarily on the airports to ensure that the products meet FAA's guidance; (4) on the basis of GAO's survey of all airports using federal funds during the period fiscal year (FY) 1989 through FY 1996 for sealer/rejuvenator products, all airports provided such assurances to FAA mainly through certifications obtained from the manufacturers; (5) GAO's survey found that airport officials report general satisfaction with sealer/rejuvenator products to date, but the actual performance test results of the products' effectiveness are limited; (6) as general guidance, EB-44 does not provide airports with an indication of the degree to which the products should repel spilled fuel or enhance the life of pavements but, rather, an indication of what the products should contain; and (7) FAA acknowledges the limitations of its guidance and plans, in consultation with industry and airport officials, to issue a general performance-based specification for sealer/rejuvenator products.

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