Solutions

Expert Webinar: RCAM

Mature businessman using laptop in airport, side view, close-up

On May 4th, PASSUR hosted a webinar about the new Runway Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM), from the perspective of airport operators – part of an ongoing series of webinars covering topics important to aviation stakeholders.

Ed Lowery, PASSUR’s Director of Technical Customer Support, hosted the webinar, joined by PASSUR Airport Subject Matter Expert Robert Junge, VP/Airport Solutions. The PASSUR customer lead was Paul Sichko, Assistant Director/MSP Operations, with Chet Collett, Alaska Airlines, Director of Flight Ops Engineering contributing. Below is a summary of the webinar content.

Summary of the Runway Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM)

With the release of the new AC 150-5200-30D, Airport Field Condition Assessments and Winter Operations Safety and its intended implementation date of October 1, 2016, PASSUR Aerospace was happy to host a timely educational webinar.

This webinar served as a discussion platform to highlight the groundbreaking efforts of the FAA’s Takeoff and Landing Performance Assessment Aviation Rule-making Committee (TALPA ARC), the challenges facing airport operations later this year and the expected successes industry (Airlines, Airports, ATC, etc.) hopes to achieve with the use of the Runway Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM) which serves as a standardized communicative risk mitigation tool. The webinar included:

  • Over 60 participants
  • Insightful industry discussion & follow-up
  • Expert former TALPA-ARC member participation and perspective
  • Airline perspective & validation testing – Alaska Airlines, Chet Collett, Director, Flight Ops Engineering
  • Airport perspective & validation testing – MSP, Paul Sichko, Assistant Director, MSP Operations & Maintenance
  • Introduction into critical issues, airports, airlines & ATC

Q&A Summary 

While the following section lists specific questions received during the PASSUR Aerospace RCAM Webinar the answers may not reflect a full and complete response. These questions have been submitted to the FAA for further commenting and we will distribute updates appropriately.

  1. Why does the Draft AC 150/5200-30D have a different RCAM than change 1 to 91-79A? Change 1 eliminates Mu readings from the RCAM.

This question has been sent to the FAA for additional feedback although a broad answer can be derived from the new AC language itself.

The new information being introduced in this AC goes a long way in harmonizing activities across Lines of Business in relationship to addressing airport surface contaminants. An important change associated with this harmonization is that aircraft manufactures have determined that variances in contaminant type, depth and air temperature cause specific changes in aircraft braking performance. As a result, it is possible to take the aircraft manufacturer’s data for specific contaminants and produce the Runway Condition Assessment Matrix for use by airport operators. This harmonization effort associated with identified contaminants extends beyond our domestic airports to a point where our ICAO partners are implementing similar standards and procedures to make the process of identifying airport contaminants less subjective.

Runway Condition Codes describe runway conditions based on defined contaminants for each runway third. Use of RwyCCs harmonizes with ICAO Annex 14, providing a standardized “shorthand” format (e.g., 4/3/2) for reporting. RwyCCs (which replaced Mu values) are used by pilots to conduct landing performance calculations.

Note: It is no longer acceptable to report or disseminate friction (Mu) values via the 1542 NOTAM System. Friction (Mu) values have been replaced by Runway Condition Codes, 1543 that are included in the Runway Condition NOTAM.

  1. How are the airline pilots being made aware of the changes? Locally, it seems that very few commercial pilots are aware of the changes.

Speaking for Alaska Airlines, it has been using a version of the RCAM since the winter of 2006-2007. From their pilot’s perspective this is not a “change”, it is the airports finally using the same terminology that they have been using and training for the last 10 years.

Regarding the rest of the industry, the FAA is having an industry forum on June 9th in DC. The FAA will inform the airlines what to expect starting Oct 2016. After the ARC, all of the major aircraft manufacturers changed their landing performance data to the RCAM standard. Meaning that even if an airline resisted changing, it had to change based on the presentation of the data.

  1. In addition to airports and airlines is FAA ATC aware of the proposed changes?

Yes, and see above regarding the June 9th, 2016 forum. PASSUR will provide updates to this Webinar as additional more detailed response become available

  1. Are any of the airports that participated in the validation reporting this way now?

While MSP did participate during validation testing its airside staff has been coding runway conditions for training purposes only. Current implementation date for certificated airports stands at October 1, 2016.

  1. Are there UPGRADE criteria? How does an airport make the runway better?

Excerpted for Draft AC 150-5200-30D

In some circumstances, these runway surface conditions may not be as slippery as the runway condition code assigned by the Matrix. The airport operator may issue a higher runway condition code (but no higher than code 3) for each third of the runway if the Mu value for that third of the runway is 40 or greater obtained by a properly operated and calibrated friction measuring device, and all other observations, judgment, and vehicle braking action support the higher runway condition code. The decision to issue a higher runway condition code than would be called for by the Matrix cannot be based on Mu values alone; all available means of assessing runway slipperiness must be used and must support the higher runway condition code. This ability to raise the reported runway condition code to a code 1, 2, or 3 can only be applied to those runway conditions listed under codes 0 and 1 in the Matrix. The airport operator must also continually monitor the runway surface as long as the higher code is in effect to ensure that the runway surface condition does not deteriorate below the assigned code. The extent of monitoring must consider all variables that may affect the runway surface condition, including any precipitation conditions, changing temperatures, effects of wind, frequency of runway use, and type of aircraft using the runway. If sand or other approved runway treatments are used to satisfy the requirements for issuing this higher runway condition code, the continued monitoring program must confirm continued effectiveness of the treatment.

Caution: Temperatures near and above freezing (e.g., at -3°C and warmer) may cause contaminants to behave more slippery than indicated by the runway condition code given in the Matrix. At these temperatures, airport operators should exercise a heightened level of runway assessment, and should downgrade the runway condition code if appropriate.

  1. Is it expected that other airports will follow suit with MSP (normal measurement but revised reporting using RCAM predominantly)?­

The information contained in this AC is guidance for the airport operators for developing plans, methods, and procedures for identifying, reporting, and removal of airport contaminants. The use of this AC is the preferred method of compliance, acceptable by the Administrator, for airports certificated under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 139, Certification of Airports, Section 139.313, Snow and Ice Control, and Section 139.339, Airport Condition Reporting. The use of this AC is also a method of compliance for federally obligated airports. Further, the use of this AC is mandatory for all projects funded with federal grant monies through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and/or with revenue from the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) Program. (See Grant Assurance No. 34, Policies, Standards, and Specifications, and PFC Assurance No. 9, Standards and Specifications.) For implementation purposes, all certificated airports must submit revised Snow and Ice Control Plans to the FAA no later than August 1, 2016 for approval. In addition, all certificated and federally obligated airports are required to follow the Runway Condition Code requirements effective October 1, 2016. At that time, certificated airports will be required to comply with the remaining portions of this AC. 

  1. I’m finding out there are multiple training materials coming out around June/July. Is there concern for some contradictory information between the different training that will be available? 

We can be assured ACI-NA and AAAE are working collaboratively and closely with both their represented membership and the FAA to ensure their efforts are an appropriate and coordinated address of the subject matter. It will however be in each airport’s best interest to stay closely tied to all developments or changes to this draft AC.

We hope this discussion will lead to further conversations and opportunities for educational outreach regarding this important evolving subject matter.

If you have any questions about the webinar discussion, contact Robert Junge at rjunge@passur.com or 646.335.8050

PASSUR Expert Webinar – RCAM Update June 9, 2016

FAA Holds “Industry Day” briefing on June 9, 2016, to introduce the Takeoff and Landing Performance Assessment (TALPA) initiative

Senior staff from across all lines of FAA business spent the day with industry professionals to review and update on TALPA / RCAM & RCC. Key highlights included a broad review of applicable publications for aircraft & airport operators, manufacturers and ATO staff. Of particular note, while tremendous progress has already been achieved the remaining “in process” effort looms large against the intended October 1, 2016, implementation date.

While FAA holds to the implementation date it admittedly agreed that missing key milestones may initiate delay action. As of June 8, 2016, publications such as AIM & AIP Updates as well as ATO Orders remain “in-process,” official notification plus training and technical non-objection concurrences remain pending.

  • The FAA is developing training on how to use RCAM and will provide it in various forms, e.g., Video, DVD, webinar, etc.; during this summer.
  • To expedite required changes to airport Snow & Ice Control Plans as well as applicable Memorandum of Understanding between airport operators and ATCT, the FAA is developing a change template that covers what should now be included in SICPs based on the new AC.
  • US NOTAM policy and system experts on hand to introduce new “beta” Digital NOTAM Manager, using the rules of the RCAM, and generating Runway Condition Codes. Details on the RwyCC process are in AC 150/5200-30D Chapter 5.
  • Voluntary, but recommended system – RCAM “not mandatory”, but if you are at an airport with a paved surface and issuing NOTAMs about  surface conditions you need to use this system. All certificated airports and federally obligated airports are required to meet the requirements for generating RwyCCs.
  • While FAA, ICAO and others continue their collaborative effort to achieve a global non-conflicting solution for assessing, measuring and reporting runway conditions, international airports in particular face immediate challenges. To ensure appropriate communications and understanding this coming winter season, early outreach with air carriers, chief pilots and industry groups is a must.

If you missed the PASSUR RCAM Webinar or the FAA TALPA Industry Day briefing, please refer to www.faa.gov or

www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/talpa (future site) for guidance.