Request for Proposal (RFP)
Posted July 10, 2003

Requests Closed 9/17/03 at 4:00 PM (EST)

IPRF Project 01-G-002-02-4

Design Guide and Handbook
Airfield Pavement Smoothness Criteria

Requests Closed


The intent of this project is twofold: (1) The research team must evaluate and perform a comparative analysis of "off-the-shelf" pavement smoothness measurement equipment, technology and indices; and (2) The research team must define an appropriate target for smoothness that can be used for the acceptance of construction and/or rehabilitation of airfield concrete pavement. The study is limited to Portland cement concrete pavements.

There are a number of technologies and measurement devices currently being used for the acceptance of highway construction that measure the relative smoothness of new pavement. These technologies include the traditional straight edge, the California Profil-o-graph, the rolling straightedge, the lightweight profiler, etc. Because of the availability of the technology, a variety of smoothness requirements are being specified for airfield pavement construction in the absence of necessary supporting data. The concern is that to achieve a level of smoothness beyond what is necessary to support the using traffic (i.e., aircraft), unnecessary additional cost(s) may be incurred in the construction.

Additionally, research must be available that can be used in support of the selection of smoothness criteria if a technique other than the traditional straightedge is to be adopted. There must be documentation for the adoption of a specified value for smoothness if new technology is to be incorporated into acceptance criteria.

There is a need for a document that provides the design agent, the owner, and the contractor information on the requirements for airfield pavement smoothness and the measurement precision that can be expected when using the measurement devices that are available. The document must also describe a measurement technique that could be used to identify the traditional "bird-bath" or unacceptable elevation control for constructed pavements.

Elements that should be considered by the research team include, but are not limited to:

  • What constitutes roughness as measured by smoothness devices
  • What or who is affected by roughness
  • What smoothness values can be routinely attained by the industry using conventional paving techniques and practices
  • What are the variables and the sensitivity of those variables in the output of measurement devices
  • Equipment and or measured surface sensitivity to temperature change
  • Pavement age
  • Repeatability of smoothness measurements


As a minimum, the researcher will:

  • Determine the availability of "off the shelf" types of smoothness measurement and analysis systems being used and, for each system, define the advantages, difficulties, application limitations, reliability, and the repeatability for each system.
  • Determine if the professional designer includes smoothness criteria in specifications to improve pavement system quality, to reduce labor involved in using straight edge technology, or to adopt criteria because the technology to make measurements is conveniently available.
  • Collect roughness data by measurement and by extraction from existing data bases from recently constructed airport pavements that were constructed using one or more of the different measurement systems (new construction and or recent overlay pavement should be used).
  • Measure the smoothness of at least three pavements (with less than three years of traffic) using each of the measurement techniques. Determine if there is a correlation between smoothness measured after traffic and directly after construction, where possible.
  • Compare the relative effectiveness of each measurement system used in the study.
  • Make recommendations for smoothness criteria that could be adopted for each of the different pavement features (i.e., runways, taxiways, and aprons) using each of the measurement systems available.
  • Identify construction practices that result in smoothness (as measured) that actually impact adversely the pavement durability (i.e., excessive working of surface, excess sand in concrete mix, etc.) Identify good construction practice, that usually results in smoother pavement construction without an adverse impact on durability.
  • Identify topics related to smoothness that would be subjects for further research.


The investigator should develop sub-tasks that, when completed, will result in completion of the project within the time and budget available. It is not necessary that the proposal reflect the exact budget or the planned performance time. However, any deviation from the designated resources must be justified and clearly explained in the proposal. The following are the minimum tasks considered necessary to complete the project:

Task 1 - Literature and Equipment Review. Review existing literature. Identify measurement systems (typical specifications that use smoothness criteria) and review research reports on the use and implementation of smoothness requirements for both highways and airports. Determine from literature reviews the variables that demonstrate the difference between adequate smoothness and unacceptable roughness related to the use of smoothness criteria for the construction of rigid pavement.

Task 2 - Airport Pavement Project List. Identify airport pavement recently constructed that could be used to establish a baseline for smoothness criteria for pavement acceptance criteria. Pavements should include a variety of pavement features such as runways, taxiways and aprons. The list should include a recommendation by the investigator as to why specific pavements are included for a detailed study and what information will be gleaned. When possible, existing field measurements from new pavement construction should be included. The data base used may also include roughness measurements of pavements from historical information where information is available and applicable. Historical information on pavement roughness measurements of existing pavements can be introduced. The list of pavements will be presented to the IPRF for review and approval. The purpose of the review is to provide the Technical Panel assurance that field evaluations can be accomplished within the resources available and that only pertinent data will be collected. It will also assure the research group that there is agreement between the IPRF and the research team about the scope of work and the limits of information that can be developed from the field study.

IMPORTANT: The investigator will not determine the locations of potential pavement studies by conducting a written survey. A survey is defined as the random distribution of a standard list of questions that seeks trends or forecasting information. The use of such surveys must receive approval through the IPRF from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). That process requires a minimum of 90 days from the date of application for the survey approval. The 90- day approval period is not included in the time designated as the performance period. The investigator is encouraged to use a means other than "survey" to identify the candidate airport projects.

Task 3 - Document a Research Plan. Develop a plan for gathering data from the project list. Develop a research plan that will be used to develop the data-gathering for the evaluation of measurement devices and technology. The research plan must identify what will be used as a baseline, or standard of performance, in the comparison of the smoothness measuring devices and/or techniques. The baseline may be in the form of a hypothesis to be validated as a part of the research. The results of the literature search, the airport list and the research plan will be submitted for an on-board review.

A 20% on-board review will be accomplished. The investigator will not proceed to Task 4 without the written approval of the IPRF. An on-board review must be scheduled at least 30 days prior to the actual meeting. Documents that are prepared for Technical Panel review must be provided at least 30 days prior to the meeting. The location of the meeting will be coordinated with the IPRF. The investigator is responsible for documenting the comments of IPRF technical panel members and the disposition of each comment.

Task 4 -Pavement Interviews. Conduct interviews with the stakeholders and consolidate data using the research plan developed in Task 3. The research group will attempt to ascertain the construction differences that account for the difference between rough and smooth pavements. Bumps that are the result of constructed changes in grade, either by design or by error, shall be included if roughness is an operational factor. The research team should attempt to ascertain at what point does airport pavement roughness induced by construction techniques or process become unacceptable. Similarly, the research should attempt to ascertain what the industry can reasonably be expected to provide using conventional airfield pavement construction techniques and equipment.

Task 5 - Field Testing and Data Analysis. The research team will accomplish field measurements at locations that were included in the research plan and approved by the IPRF. The field measurements will be accomplished using the measurement devices identified in the research plan. Upon completion of the measurements, the data will be reduced and reported in a format that easily provides a comparison of the variables to each measurement technology used. For the purpose of accomplishing this Task, the FAA has non-contact inertial profiling equipment that may be incorporated into the research plan. If desired, measurements will be made by the FAA with this equipment according to the research plan without cost to the research contractor.

Task 6 - Advanced Draft Report. The 60% document shall be in a form that for all intent is complete with the exception of final comments made by the technical panel.

A 60% on-board review will be accomplished. The review will be a meeting between the investigator and the IPRF Technical Panel. The draft report will be developed as a design guide(s) and it will be provided to the Technical Panel at least 30 days prior to the meeting. The location of the meeting will be coordinated with the IPRF. The investigator is responsible for documenting the comments of IPRF Technical Panel members and the disposition of each comment.

Task 7 - Draft Final Report. Make corrections to the 60% document and submit the final documents to the IPRF. The final report will describe the nature of the research, the results, and a description of the smoothness measurement system for each technology included in the study. Target smoothness limits shall be established for each technique based upon the requirements of the using traffic. The report will be an educational guide summarizing the techniques, correct applications, and limits of smoothness measuring devices and technology. The document is intended to be used by airport owners/operators, airfield pavement designers, and contractors. The guide shall identify factors that have an effect on the final surface smoothness of the pavement and which stage of construction most significantly impacts the smoothness as measured (if any). The primary purpose of the document is as an educational text to provide information to the owner, designer and the contractor. The Draft Final Report will be reviewd by the Technical Panel and their comments will be provided as part of the Final Report.

The investigator will provide two originals of the Final Report in a camera ready format including any artwork, graphics or photos. There will also be a submittal in an electronic format compatible with off-the-shelf desktop computer publication software. The investigator will not be responsible for the reproduction and printing of the final document(s) but will assist with minor editing requirements generated by the printing and reproduction process.


1. There will be an on-board review at what is defined as the 20% level. The research team will provide the results of the literature study and equipment survey, the proposed list of airport pavements to be studied, and the research plan.
2. There will be an on-board review of the Draft Report at what is defined as the 60% level. The review will look at the Draft Report which presents the results of the interviews and the field studies. The research team is expected to identify critical issues for the purpose of defining the context and content of the Draft Final Report.
3. The Draft Final Report will be reviewed by the Technical Panel. The requirement for an on-board review will be determined by the Technical Panel subsequent to a review of the Draft Final Report. This review will be considered to be the 90% level.


1. A report which summarizes the results of the literature review, equipment review, and a proposed research plan. Submit 8 copies. This is defined as the 20% level of completion. The project list and the proposed methods on obtaining information will be reviewed at an on-board meeting at a location to be determined. The investigator will host the meeting. Location will be determined in coordination with the IPRF.
2. The 60% on-board review will be accomplished approximately 30 days after submittal of a Draft Report. The Draft Report (8 copies) will include a summary of data collected and recommended discussion items. The investigator will host the meeting. Location will be determined in coordination with the IPRF.
3. Draft Final Report submittal (8 copies) and 90% review. The investigator will host the meeting. Location will be determined in coordination with the IPRF.
4. The Final Report, in the form of an information handbook (an IPRF Report), will be complete with all artwork, graphics, tables, pictures, documentation, etc. ready for reproduction and distribution. The report will be in two hard copies and one electronic version.

Other Considerations and Requirements.

1. The investigator will be responsible for the preparation of quarterly reports that describe the progress of the research effort. Reports are due in the offices of the IPRF on the last day of the fiscal-year quarter. The reports will be limited to two pages in a format specified by the IPRF. The first page will be a word document describing the progress of the work. The second page will provide a summary of the estimated costs versus the costs incurred to the report date.
2. Due to limited resources, it is not possible to have an exhaustive list of pavements to study. Therefore, in proposing candidate pavement for study, the investigator should consider thermal regimes (sub-tropical, central, and northern tier), pavement features (taxiways, intersections, runways, and aprons), and projects that involve rehabilitation and construction.
3. The investigator will initiate contact with the airports that are selected for detailed study and documentation of projects through the IPRF. The investigator will provide a draft letter. The IPRF will edit the letter of introduction to the airports and may include an endorsement of the letter by the FAA. This is intended to encourage participation by the airports and their sponsors.


After the technical panel completes the evaluation of proposals, each of the proposals will be rank ordered. The organization, group, or individual that is ranked as the first and second choice for the recommendation to award may be asked to make a presentation to the project technical panel. The Principal Investigator, and one other person, representing the entity ranked first and second choice by the technical panel may be asked to participate in an interview to discuss the project details, goals, and objectives. The IPRF will reimburse the expenses (up to 2 people) to make this presentation at a location yet to be determined. The interview will occur within a 45-day window subsequent to the proposal submittal deadline.


IPRF procedural guidance documents are available on the web at in the section titled "Airfields Research." Persons preparing proposals are urged to review the following documents to be sure that there is a full understanding of IPRF procedures and requirements. Proposals must be prepared in the format specified in the instruction documents. The proposal will be submitted as one (1) original and 8 copies.

The documents required as an aide to the preparation of the proposal include:

PDF files require Acrobat Reader to view.

FUNDS AVAILABLE: Not to Exceed $205,000

CONTRACT TIME: Not to exceed 15 Months

PROJECT DIRECTOR: Jim Lafrenz, P.E., (202) 842-1131,


PROPOSAL DUE DATE: September 17, 2003 not later than 4:00 P.M. (Eastern Time)


Proposals will be delivered to:
Innovative Pavement Research Foundation
Cooperative Programs Office
1010 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Suite 200
Washington DC 20001
(202) 842-1131
FAX: (202) 842-2022

Return to IPRF Airfields Research