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Direction générale de l'aviation civile (DGAC)

Service technique de l'aviation civile

Forecast of water heights on runway :

development of the OPHELIA SOFTWARE

Aircraft landing and take-off performance and operational limitations highly depend the runway surface conditions, which can be severely degraded when meteorological conditions are bad. Information on runway contamination is of crucial importance, which is why the new international runway surface assessing and reporting system (Global Reporting Format) focuses on the characterization of the nature, thickness and extent of this contamination.

Today, the evaluation of the thickness of water on the runway and the marking of the accumulation zones is most often done by means of visual inspections of the runway and simple measurements with a ruler. But, these methods are inaccurate and time-consuming. They are not compatible with airport capacity requirements, with size of monitored surfaces and with the evolution of rainy events.

The STAC and the CEREMA have therefore co-developed a diagnostic tool that optimizes the monitoring of the runway surface condition. The OPHELIA software (Forecasting of Water Heights on runways for Aeronautical Information) is based on high-performance acquisition of the runway’s surface characteristics. The modelling of the surface geometry (slopes, textures) and water flows then enables the water heights over the entire runway to be estimated based on the precipitation intensities measured or forecast by the meteorological services.

The tool is currently on trial at Lyon-St Exupery and Strasbourg airports. Once operationally deployed, it could be used to optimize runway inspections (frequency, targeting of water accumulation zones) and to help in the decision-making for runway surface maintenance.

Forecasting of the water heights on the matrix of an airport runway (© DGAC/STAC)


Updated on Nov 25 2022