Fines Preservation for Your Gravel Runway: 9 Key Considerations

Fines Preservation for Your Gravel Runway: 9 Key Considerations

In Air Travel, Fines Preservation®, Gravel Runway by John Burnett


For airport operators in the most remote corners of the world, keeping your gravel runway up and running at all times is a complex process — and absolutely essential. To help make sure your operation never misses a beat, let’s run through 9 crucial considerations and how fines preservation with Midwest can help.

1) Unforeseen Aircraft Damages

In the case of unpaved runways, a hidden cost of failing to preserve fines is that the resulting degradation of the runway surface directly impacts the planes that use it to take off. For instance, dust and larger particles that escape from the runway’s surface can both impair visibility and damage airplane turbines. Airlines can (and do) pass bills for damages on to airports, and these bills can total hundreds of thousands of dollars at the least.

2) Less Efficient Shipping = Lost Revenue

A lack of surface strength can also necessitate longer taxi distances for planes — and because larger planes require longer runways, soft surfaces can actually prohibit larger planes from landing or taking off. For mining operations, this circumstance can be incredibly costly: many Canadian mines ship all of their product by air, and breaking up those shipments into smaller parcels for smaller planes is a highly expensive endeavor.

3) No More Maintenance

Perhaps the most significant benefit of an effective fines preservation program is that the need for maintenance completely evaporates in the season after its completion. We at Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. usually have trouble convincing runway operators not to take their grader out for weekly maintenance work — when a runway has undergone fines preservation, the surface strength improves so significantly that such upkeep becomes completely unnecessary.

4) Double the Lifecycle of Your Runway

Ultimately, a good fines preservation program extends the lifecycle of a runway by years and years. Considering that the cost of rebuilding a road or runway can figure in the millions, pushing a ten-year rebuild cycle into a 15 or 20-year cycle represents enormous cost savings.

5) No Need For Dust Control

Fines preservation also eliminates the need for dust control by locking fines into the structure of the road or runway. Runway owners who historically performed dust control by watering save considerable amounts of money simply by eliminating these redundant and harmful practices. Even for operators using a dust suppressant that is more effective than watering, fines preservation will still cut down on costs.

6) Certified Environmental Friendliness

If you run a mining operation, you may already know that many mines are obligated to return their sites to pre-construction conditions once the operation is completed. This process requires the remediation of soil on roads and runways, which can be extremely expensive — luckily, fines preservation is an environmentally friendly program. In fact, the best fines preservation agents are certified by the U.S. EPA and Bureau de Normalisation du Québec.

7) Stronger Local Relations

For an example of why that is, consider Alaska or Canada’s Northwest Territories, where lichens and other flora tend to grow along gravel runways. Local caribou rely on these lifeforms for sustenance, and for that reason, oil-based products are unacceptable for gravel runway stabilization projects. Good fines preservation products don’t interfere with the growth of plants like these crucial lichens, which is why they’re approved by local environmental authorities.

8) The Right Certifications

If you run an airport with unpaved runways, it’s important to ensure that any fines preservation program you pay for is approved by aerospace authorities like Boeing. When applied correctly, fines preservation products will increase the surface strength of a runway, improve smoothness, reduce on-board vibration, improve braking, and increase the margin of safety for takeoff and landings. If your fines preservation program works well enough, you’re likely to hear rave reviews from the pilots who land on and takeoff from your runway.

9) Expertise in Application

As with many other industrial processes, application is far more critical to the success of a fines preservation program than the product being applied. You’ll want to be sure that your fines preservation applicator is as experienced as possible — applying product yourself might cut costs in the short term, but a failure to properly execute a fines preservation program can seriously hinder the program’s ultimate effectiveness. Sites with extreme climate considerations or unusual soil compositions in particular should be handled by applicators who have experience with a wide variety of demanding fines preservation projects.

Midwest’s fines preservation solutions, leveraging U.S. EPA ETV-verified and Boeing-approved products like EnviroKleen® and EK35®, surpass traditional approaches to build surfaces that meet all of your gravel runway needs. Our patented technology helps preserve the runway “as constructed,” adding years to the surface’s life before rebuilding or resurfacing is necessary.