Save Time. Save Money. Save Lives

Mike Speidel
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Mike Speidel joined Sightline Airport Marking Consultants in 2004 and is a contributing author of the Airfield Marking Handbook, published in 2008. Speidel is an advocate of higher standards for airfield markings, which he frequently speaks and writes about.

In my time spent evaluating airfield markings - painted by both in-house crews and contractors - it is evident that the majority of applicators have not been adequately trained to install them. The aviation industry trains its pilots and ground personnel to navigate safely, however no certification training exists for those installing the navigational system. Engineers, applicators and inspectors need to be trained in order to specify, install and inspect a more effective marking system. A marking certification training program will save time, money and lives.

Save Time

Repainting annually is inefficient when the markings do not require maintenance. However, it is quite common in the industry to repaint regardless of whether they are currently performing well. The decision about when to maintain markings is often subjective because they degrade slowly. Therefore the industry often relies on the warm months as a cue to paint again.

When the markings do require maintenance, they are often installed poorly, leaving the airport with an ineffective, unsafe navigational environment - particularly during periods of darkness and/or low-visibility. Personnel trained to paint airfields according to the best practices in the Airfield Marking Handbook have a significantly better opportunity to install an effective product. Time allotted for painting operations would be reduced by identifying solely the markings requiring maintenance and by limiting the potential for a poor application.

Save Money

Many airports opt to save money by omitting surface preparation from specifications, buying cheaper materials, etc. These decisions may help the immediate bottom line, but often end up costing more in the long run. Painting every year with cheaper, less effective materials and choosing to skip surface preparation leads to paint buildup. Eventually, the area will need remediation in the form of paint removal, which is a very slow and expensive process.

The secret to a cost-effective marking system is longevity. Longer effective life from any given marking yields a lower cost per square foot. Achieving longer life from a marking system requires a different approach than what is commonly encountered in the industry. Tailored specifications and high quality materials selected for each unique airport combined with quality application and inspection are the necessary components for a marking system to be cost-effective. To realize these savings, those responsible for providing each of the components mentioned should be trained to do so.

Save Lives

Markings are a vital part of an airport's navigational aid system. They provide an important function - to safely guide pilots, and ground vehicles, about the airfield. While there is no dispute over the importance of markings, there is a large disparity in the quality of markings throughout the industry. Current practices have resulted in ineffective markings at the majority of airports. Most markings do not provide adequate situational awareness at night and in periods of low-visibility. Markings maintained repeatedly without surface preparation or paint removal accumulate thick layers that break apart and create foreign object debris (FOD) potential. Paint FOD can be mitigated with proper training and specifying appropriate solutions.

The potential liability that markings represent is real. Conversely, the potential safety that high-quality markings provide is also real. Improving our methodologies by training those responsible for specification, application and inspection is the first step toward safer marking systems worldwide. That's how we can help save time, money and lives.

Industry Insider

2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement

Giving back to the community is central to what Charlotte Douglas International Airport and its operator, the City of Charlotte Aviation Department, is about, and last year was no different. 

Throughout 2022, while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued our efforts to have a positive impact on the Charlotte community. Of particular note, we spent the year sharing stories of how Connections Don't Just Happen at the Terminal - from creating homeownership and employment opportunities to supporting economic growth through small-business development and offering outreach programs to help residents understand the Airport better.

This whitepaper highlights the construction projects, initiatives, programs and events that validate Charlotte Douglas as a premier airport.

Download the whitepaper: 2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement.



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