Commonly used for high-traffic road construction, SMA has been used on airport runways in Europe and China and has been tested at an Australian military airport and at Cairns airport.
Central Highlands Regional Council General Manager Customer and Commercial Services Michelle Webster said the choice of material is expected to provide long-term savings.
‘Overseas case studies show long-term savings due to better durability and less maintenance,’ Ms Webster said.
‘On average, SMA runways in China last five to 10 years longer compared to the usual runway asphalt.’
Ms Webster said as rules and standards for airport infrastructure become more stringent, maintenance costs can be challenging for councils operating regional airports.
‘The traditional runway surfaces require regular cutting of grooves to meet compliance standards,’ she said.
The works were awarded to specialist contractor Boral Asphalt, who are also completing upgrades to the general aviation area as part of a $16 million capital investment in airport infrastructure by council.
‘Part of our construction process is to test every batch of asphalt that is laid down and, only a few weeks from completion, the trial patches are performing above expectations,’ she said.
‘We hope that our experience will be something other councils and regional airports can look to for research purposes and future improvements of their own.’
The runway and apron resurfacing project kicked off in September and is expected to be completed by mid-December, while the general aviation works should be finished by March 2020.
The works are jointly funded by the Australian Government, and through the Queensland Government’s Building our Regions program, in association with Central Highlands Regional Council.