Geosynthetics improve safety of the runway at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport

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Brandenburg Airport, Berlin - Germany

NAUE GmbH & Co. KG

NAUE geosynthetics are playing a strong role in meeting the engineering design challenges of the runway at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport (BER). The runway of the BER covers an area of approximately 1,470ha. Secugrid® geogrids are being used for primary stabilisation and Carbofol® geomembranes for surface runoff protection.

The Berlin-Brandenburg Airport opened its doors to passengers worldwide in October 2020. Prior to the opening, the airport was faced with many engineering design challenges. As technology in airplane manufacture and design has advanced, larger and stronger runways must be constructed to accommodate the vast range of plane styles and weights.

Besides, runways have to withstand frequent, intensive compression and decompression cycles during aircraft take-offs and landings. The runway at the BER is 60m wide and complemented on both sides by a 75m wide strip, which is divided into several functional areas:Immediately next to the runway is an asphalt strip with shoulder and fire protection zones. Surface water flows from the runway onto the paved shoulder, then directly into a vegetated wetland with coarse drainage sand for filtering elements such as deicing agents, oils, fuels and more.

These runoff collection zones (and the groundwater and soil beneath) are protected from seepage by 70,000m² Carbofol® geomembrane combined with a Secutex® nonwoven layer. The filter strip area must be extremely strong and stable, in case a plane veers off the runway.

Preventing a more serious accident includes making sure the wheels do not sink too deeply into the vegetated strip. Due to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) 9157 the shoulder of the runway must be designed so that the nose gear of an airplane does not sink more than 15cm. Therefore, the subgrade’s bearing strength below the first 15cm must have a California Bearing Ratio (CBR) between 15 and 20%.

Geogrids provide that safety and support for runways, just as they do for other intensive transportation applications such as high-speed railways. Approximately 280,000m² of Secugrid® 80/80 Q1 geogrids were installed above the filter surface to stabilise the runway edges. Additional 500,000m² Secugrid® 30/30 Q1 were used for the stabilisation of the runway shoulder. Secugrid® is characterised by exceptional durability, high rigidity, and strong resistance to tensile forces, even at low elongation. These factors distribute stress quickly, effectively and safely to maintain runway integrity.

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