Friction-testing vehicle at airport

Garfield County acquires friction-testing vehicle for airport

September 8, 2017

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Garfield County has purchased its first vehicle-mounted, runway surface-friction-testing equipment for use at the Rifle Garfield County Airport. The 2007 GMC 3500 HD pickup, which features the specialized friction-testing equipment, was originally purchased by Denver International Airport at a cost of over $120,000, according to Airport Director Brian Condie.

The friction tester assesses runway surface conditions, offering pilots a snapshot of what to expect when landing or departing, mainly in inclement weather. A fifth wheel is deployed beneath the truck as it drives down the runway to assess runway conditions.

“Currently the airport uses a portable Tapley decelerometer to test for friction, however different vehicle tire wear patters can result in varying reports depending on the vehicle you are in,” said Airport Operations Coordinator Mike Ballard. “With this new vehicle the reports will be accurate and timely.”

The vehicle’s cost was $30,000, with 80 percent ($24,000) of that amount covered by a Colorado Discretionary Aviation Grant (CDAG). Garfield County paid the remaining $6,000 for the equipment and truck, which has 28,000 miles on it. The vehicle was made available through the Colorado Surplus Airport Equipment Program, which aims to improve the state’s aviation system by benefitting public-use airports. The equipment must remain in use for at least two years to fulfill obligations of the grant.

“We’ve talked to the manufacturers of the friction-testing equipment, and they are willing to come out to our airport and certify it, and we anticipate we will use this for the next five to 10 years,” Condie told the Garfield County Commissioners.

The contract and grant offer were approved unanimously, 3-0.

“Any time we can get a piece of equipment at an 80-20 split, I think we better take it,” said Commissioner Mike Samson in his support of the purchase.