Why sealed runways are not always the safest

Matt Dearden

English born professional pilot, writer, blogger and columnist. Currently flying the Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter in Papua, Indonesia.

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9 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Those sealed runways look a bit like Welsh roads!
    Interesting stuff, brightens the odd boring day here in Rosyth. Si.

    • Matt Dearden says:

      Cheers Si. I reckon North Somerset takes the cake when it comes to crappy roads though.

    • Anonymous says:

      Matt,
      very interesting blog.
      I am a civil engineer and have a few comments.
      Road or runway building tends to want to use as little material as possible. Therefore, the cut (or excavation) ideally will balance the amount of fill.
      The first step is always to clear the top soil, which is soft silty material with vegetation matter which is unsuitable for road building.
      So you will have cut areas and filled areas which may be less solid due to not all the top soil being dug out. To keep cost down a view is taken that it is better to do maintenance every few years than build it perfect.
      the problem for a pilot is that, just before maintenance is done, there will be some fairly substantial depressions that can catch you out.
      the frequent pot holes is due to bad compaction. Ideal moisture content for compaction is around 15%, which may be difficult to get in a tropical area.
      regards
      Frans X Liebenberg
      Jhb, RSA

    • Matt Dearden says:

      Thanks for your input Frans. Always interesting to hear about how these things are constructed. I suspect the main problems we have in Papua are the cost of getting the materials up to the airstrips and the attitude of until it’s really broken, it won’t be fixed..

    • Anonymous says:

      Matt,
      looking at the foto above, the thing to watch is the uphill side of the depressions that are filled in. IF the builder did not put in drainage, ie culverts or pipes through the bottom of the fill to drain the area, then you will get ponding and the filled earth will soften and possibly settle. so expect dip in your runway if you see standing water on the uphill side.
      regards
      Frans X Liebenberg
      Jhb, RSA

  2. Just found your blog. So very interesting to hear the extensive changes since we lived in Bokindini training aircraft mechanics in the late 80’s.

    • Matt Dearden says:

      Thanks John.

      Even since I’ve been here nearly five years I’ve seen lots of change. Plenty of airstrips are slowly becoming sealed and longer as well as improved road access between the larger towns.

  3. Dave says:

    I’m enjoying your blog Matt. Done some Hajj flying out of long old strips like Batam, Solo, Medan, and Makassar. They hold a different set of challenges when the monsoon season is in full swing, but nothing like your fields. I admit to being slightly envious! Dave

    • Matt Dearden says:

      Cheers Dave. I’ve seen some of those Hajj aircraft on my travels. Always different seeing a UK or Canadian registered aircraft in Garuda colours. Must make a change from Stansted to Malaga and back!