The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a 717-page Approved Advisory Circular Specifications for 2019 that specifies precast concrete for all underground drainage structures for the first time. It is the result of three years of collaboration between FAA and the National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA), and specifically mentions the NPCA Plant Certification Program (or equivalent) as the required QA/QC component for FAA projects that include precast structures.

The new specification, now in effect, comes on the heels of last fall’s 5-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 U.S. The new FAA specification 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 the Department of Defense certification requirement in the Unified Facilities Guide Specification.

“This is an important specification upgrade for the precast concrete industry,” says Ty Gable, president of the NPCA. “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 ASTMs. 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.”

Rich Krolewski, NPCA director of certification and regulatory services, initially met in Washington, D.C., with John Dermody, FAA director of Airport Safety and Standards and described the advantages of updating FAA specifications to align with ASTM standards. After receiving approvals from Dermody, Krolewski met repeatedly over three years with Greg Cline, FAA’s senior pavement engineer, to create the language in the document.

“We appreciated the initial contact and the support Rich and NPCA provided in updating the advisory circular,” Kline says. “I believe in coordination with industry through the updating process, which is how I’ve always accomplished such efforts throughout my career.” The updating process took longer than he expected, but, Kline added, “we made it through with a great update to our FAA specifications and it also provided FAA with a great working relationship. This supports the concept that government and industry should – and do – work together.”

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