Three-dimensional GPR antenna for the study of airport pavements


Runway pavement scanning with a Three-dimensional GPR. A whole runway can be analyzed in a single night with centimetric data density


A self-positioning system is used in runway GPR surveys to ensure complete coverage and avoid unnecessary overlapping between consecutive lines


GPR surface reflection amplitudes on a runway. The amplitudes of the surface course provide very useful information about its condition

Civil Engineering applications


Airport pavements suffer intense wear because of the type of use they are subject to (both static and dynamic loads) and due to their exposure to climate conditions.

Constructing and maintaining a structurally and functionally sound pavement requires strict adherence to public administration standards and practices pertaining to pavement thickness design, material selection, construction, inspection, and maintenance.

Pavement life depends also on the operational conditions, material properties, climatic conditions, changes in traffic characteristics and volumes.

In the case of airport infrastructures, any problem in the condition of the pavement can cause alteration or even disruption of the airfield’s traffic. In this type of pavements, a correct conservation must always be guaranteed to ensure proper operation of the airport.

With this objective in mind, a preventive pavement maintenance policy (runways, taxiways, gates, and parking platforms) anticipates and prevents the occurrence of structural and functional problems.

The large extension of paved areas at an airport (tens of hectares) has made exceedingly difficult to carry out systematic and detailed surveys. However, with the use of newly developed tools such as three-dimensional GPR arrays it is possible to scan all paved areas in a very short time with a centimeter-level data density.

A survey vehicle equipped with one of these scanning systems, together with a highly automated line guidance system, as well as centimeter-error DGPS positioning, allows to optimize the short time working windows. In a normal working day (with an effective window of four to five hours during the night), between 15 and 20 Ha can be scanned with a resolution of 10x10cm.

This vast acquisition capacity allows the collection of a huge amount of information (condition of the asphalt/concrete surface course, thickness of the pavement, base and sub-base layers and zones of accumulation of humidity) with unprecedented definition.

Derived models can be integrated with other techniques (deflectometry, friction coefficient, PCI, SCI, IRI, cores) to obtain a more detailed description of the platform’s current condition.

Layer thicknesses obtained on a runway using a three-dimensional GPR. Top: thickness of asphalt layer. Bottom: Thickness of base and sub-base courses.

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