Topcon/Roadtec Smooth Way for Airbus A380, Space Shuttle

February 14, 2011

John F. Kennedy International Airport’s runway 13R-31L—the nation’s third longest at 14,572 feet—recently was resurfaced with an 18-inch lift of concrete, after the surface was prepared with a fleet of Roadtec milling machines equipped with Topcon Positioning System’s Millimeter GPS+.
The firm of Tutor Perini, based in Sylmar, Calif., was awarded the $204-million contract to widen the runway from 150 to 200 feet, an improvement that creates new delay-reduction taxiways and allows the runway to accommodate the massive new Airbus A380 aircraft, as well as to serve as a backup landing spot for the space shuttle. Milling, grading and paving was handled by subcontractor Intercounty Paving Associates, Hicksville, N.Y.
The runway was milled in two phases, the first bringing the pavement to within 1.5 inches of final grade, then a second pass, with the Topcon systems activated, to attain a surface within 0.02 inch of the specified grade.
Topcon’s Millimeter GPS+ combines a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and a special laser that emits a wall of laser light 33 feet tall and up to 2,000 feet in diameter. Four such laser transmitters can be linked together for a total reach of 8,000 feet horizontally and 132 feet vertically. The GNSS system plots the location of the machine, and the laser allows precise positioning of the cutting drum with reference to a 3-D site-model loaded into a computer on-board the milling machine.