Infrasense Airport Surveys Take Off in South Carolina

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Infrasense has recently completed the ground penetrating radar (GPR) phase of a pavement assessment project for 24 airports in South Carolina. The purpose of this project was to provide the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission (SCAC) with information to update their statewide Pavement Maintenance and Management System, which tracks the deterioration and carrying capacity of each pavement facility. Field testing, conducted in conjunction with Applied Research Associates (ARA), included GPR scanning, falling weight deflectometer testing, and coring.

Contour plot of pavement thickness at an airport apron

Infrasense, Inc. recently completed the ground penetrating radar (GPR) phase of a project to provide pavement condition and capacity data for 24 South Carolina airports. The project, performed in conjunction with Applied Research Associates (ARA), provides the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission (SCAC) with information to update their statewide Pavement Maintenance and Management System. Two essential aspects of this system are tracking the deterioration of the pavement surface condition over time, and determining the load carrying capacity for each pavement facility. The condition evaluation included historical records research, visual site inspections, and physical testing. Testing included falling weight deflectometer (FWD) measurements, GPR scanning, and coring. The specific objectives of the GPR testing were to determine pavement layer structure and to identify deeper subsurface features, including voids and foreign objects such as abandoned fuel tanks and tree stumps in the embankments.

Infrasense conducted multiple GPR scans of all major pavement elements, including runways, taxiways, and aprons. The GPR system combined a 1 GHz horn antenna to characterize pavement layer structure, and a 400 MHz antenna to identify utilities, voids, foreign objects, and areas of high moisture to a depth of 7 feet. The equipment set up allowed speeds of 15-30 mph during data collection. A differential GPS unit provided detailed tracking of the survey paths. The efficiency of this setup permitted the survey of all airport elements at an average rate of 2 airports per day. Infrasense analyzed the data to identify thickness of the bound and unbound pavement layers, presenting the results to ARA in tabular and graphical form. ARA used these results with their FWD data to backcalculate layer moduli and ultimately to determine the pavement classification number (PCN) of each airfield element. The deeper subsurface features were identified and mapped using geo-referenced data files.

Over the past 25 years, Infrasense has conducted GPR thickness and condition surveys on over 10,000 lane-miles of pavement throughout the U.S. and around the world. In addition to the airport work in South Carolina, Infrasense has performed airport evaluations throughout the country, from Boston's Logan Airport in the east to Oregon's Klamath Falls Airport in the west.
With its convenient vehicle-based GPR surveys, Infrasense is well-equipped to handle the unique demands of airport projects. The vehicle-based system allows for runway surveys to be completed rapidly, resulting in limited runway interference and inconveniences for the airport. Additionally, because GPR is a nondestructive form of testing, no excavation or repair is required to complete the survey; normal airport activity may resume as soon as the survey vehicle completes its final survey and exits the runway.

About Infrasense, Inc.

Since 1987, Infrasense, Inc. has employed state-of-the-art technologies to address the most difficult challenges in subsurface scanning. Infrasense’s engineers are able to nondestructively extract critical information from a diverse range of structures. The firm has conducted research to advance the field of subsurface detection, while also providing valuable information to clients across the country. Learn more about Infrasense, Inc. and its services at

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Ken Maser
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