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Lightweight Replacement for AM-2 Runway Matting



OBJECTIVE: Develop a robust sheet or roll technology weighing 3.5 lb/sq ft or less that can be laid by hand over a level surface compacted to CBR 50, to contain debris and support flight operations for 5,000 landing-and-takeoff cycles over 60 days. 

DESCRIPTION: Capacity for prompt recovery or expedient establishment of flight operations is an imperative for military activities that involve aircraft. The Vietnam-Era AM-2 mat has served that purpose for half a century, but is heavy, difficult to repair or replace, and not well suited to supporting heavy-lift aircraft operations. This topic seeks a lighter-weight replacement technology that can be applied directly over a prepared surface compacted to CBR 50 (or higher) to preserve the prepared understructure and prevent the appearance of foreign objects on the aircraft operating surface. The goal is that this technology support light and heavy-lift aircraft operations for two months and 5,000 landing-and-takeoff cycles without significant maintenance, and that individual panels can be extracted and replaced or reinstalled if they or their underlayment fails. Elastic deformation is to be minimized. Greatest lateral loads on joints and fasteners will be encountered in regions that experience touchdowns, mechanical braking, and slow turns—the new technology must remain intact and in place during and after these events. Environmental constraints imposed on the cap are extreme, to accommodate possible actual conditions—full exposure to sun, precipitation in all forms, freeze–thaw cycles—and operations will impose severe stresses—300-psi rolling loads, large horizontal vectors associated with braking of heavy-lift aircraft, local heating and abrupt forces at the point of touchdown, and spills of hydrocarbon and hydraulic fluids. The coefficient of friction is to be ~0.5, compression under load may not exceed 0.75 in, storage lifetime at 140 °F must be 10 y or more. Current deployment methods for the AM-2 are labor intensive. The number and mode of placement of fasteners and anchors is a factor for optimization—the target is to minimize the total time needed to lay a minimum operating surface, nominally 5000 x 75 ft, that meets performance criteria, without compromising structural integrity. 

PHASE I: Measure tensile stress of a 2-ft × 6-ft working model of the technology at failure. Repeat at 0.9 × failure stress applied for 1 s 50 × at 2-s intervals, then remeasure length. Anchor a panel to a concrete slab and hard brake a fully loaded ½-ton truck along the panel 5× from 30 mph, then remeasure length and thickness. 

PHASE II: Establish conditions and any associated technology for application to runways to restore original contour and attain full operational capability 30 min after compaction/preparation of final repair site. 

PHASE III: Deliver 500 sqft of matting and associated fasteners to AFCEC/CXA for installation and load cart testing on a freshly compacted repair site. 


1: "Rapid Maximum-on-ground (mog) Enhancement Technologies. Report 1. Matting Systems For Contingency Helipads And C-130 Test Sections," ERDC/GSL-TR-05-2, US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center.

2:  "Full-scale Instrumented Testing and Analysis of Matting Systems for Airfield Parking Ramps and Taxiways," ERDC/GSL-TR-07-33, US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center.

3:  "Full-scale Instrumented Evaluations of Multiple Airfield Matting Systems on Soft Soil to Characterize Permanent Deformation," Transportation Geotechnics 9 · August 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.trgeo.2016.08.001.

KEYWORDS: Aircraft, Crater, Landing, Mat, Runway, Takeoff 


Dr Alessandra Bianchini 

(850) 283-6251 

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