FAA spec marks first for underground precast structures

Source: National Precast Concrete Association, Carmel, Ind.

Underground infrastructure projects at airports will be easier for precast concrete producers to bid after release of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Approved Advisory Circular Specifications for 2019. The 717-page document specifies precast concrete for all underground drainage structures for the first time, and stems from three years of FAA and National Precast Concrete Association collaboration. 

Effective immediately, the circular cites the NPCA Plant Certification Program (or equivalent) as the required quality assurance/quality control component for precast structures on FAA projects. The specification comes on the heels of last fall’s five-year Congressional reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Act, which earmarks $96.7 billion for aviation, a portion of which will go to infrastructure improvements at airports across the United States. It is mandatory for the more than 19,000 airport authorities under FAA jurisdiction and projects funded under the Airport Improvement Program. The NPCA certification requirement also aligns the new FAA specification with a Department of Defense certification requirement in the Unified Facilities Guide Specification. 

“This is an important specification upgrade for the precast concrete industry,” says NPCA President Ty Gable. “The previous FAA spec did not mention precast concrete and was not up to date on materials such as self-consolidating concrete and some commonly used admixtures. We worked closely with the FAA to align the specification with the appropriate ASTM [standards]. The result is that precast concrete is now specified for underground drainage structures and there is a clear distinction between precast and poured-in-place concrete.” 

NPCA Director of Certification and Regulatory Services Rich Krolewski initially met in Washington, D.C. with FAA Director of Airport Safety and Standards John Dermody to review the advantages of aligning FAA specifications with ASTM standards. After receiving approvals from Dermody, Krolewski conferred over a three-year period with FAA Senior Pavement Engineer Greg Kline to craft circular language. While the process took longer than expected, “We made it through with a great update to our specifications and it also provided FAA with a great working relationship,” Kline affirms. “This supports the concept that government and industry should—and do—work together.”