Milwaukee airport gets runway 'friction tester' vehicle

Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport "friction tester" vehicle

Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport on Thursday, Aug. 25 unveiled a newly-implemented vehicle designed to keep runways safer.

The "continuous friction measuring vehicle" or "friction tester" is used to measure the rate of slippage and loss of friction on the runway due to rubber buildup from airplane wheels or pavement wear.

The vehicle has a water tank and sprays water to simulate wet pavement. It drives the length of the runway and takes readings every several hundred feet, measuring the friction coefficient on the pavement.

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Based on that data, the airport said it will address issues noted in the readings with a water-blasting system which will remove the rubber deposits.

After periods of heavy rainfall, the surface friction tester vehicle is also used to determine if any "ponding" has occurred on the runway. Otherwise, the vehicle is used every two weeks to monitor for any trends and stay on top of routine runway maintenance during the summer and winter months, the airport said.