December 2001 Issue

Drag Strip

Runway contamination from water, snow or slush can rip apart tires or send you into the weeds, even at taxi speed

[IMGCAP(1)] Surface contamination has been a major player in runway over-shoot and off the side mishaps. The pilot invariably gets blamed even though the pavement itself is often the principal cause.

While tire tread design is important in keeping the rubber on the runway, research has shown that other factors, including runway crowning and surface micro texture is more important in preventing overshoot accidents. While runways used by airlines have crowns and grooves to help traction in almost all weather conditions, general aviation runways are not so lucky.

There are two main causes for loss of control because of water, slush or snow on the runway: reverted rubber hydroplaning and...

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