As we reported last fall, Congress passed and the President signed a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Act, which earmarks $96.7 billion in funding for aviation programs. That five-year window of certainty should unleash some major airport improvements at large and small facilities throughout the country.
The icing on the cake came last week when we received the 717-page Approved Advisory Circular Specifications for 2019 from FAA. This is the new mandatory specification that we’ve been working toward with FAA for the past three years. The previous spec, which had not been updated for many years, had no mention of precast concrete. Cast-in-place was the preferred method, which meant that a precaster would often need to jump through hoops to persuade the local airport authority to convert a job to precast.
Rich Krolewski, our 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, Rich met repeatedly over three years with Greg Cline, FAA’s senior pavement engineer, to create the language in the document. The result is that we converted an outdated coarse aggregate specification that favored cast-in-place concrete to precast-specific language that opens the door across the country for precast concrete drainage structures on FAA projects.
In addition, we were able to add a QA-QC component that specifically requires the NPCA Plant Certification Program (or an equivalent) as a mandatory requirement. We are the only certification program specifically mentioned in the circular. The FAA Advisory Circular covers 19,000-plus airport authorities, including hundreds of major hub airports. It is likely to create a domino effect through the Department of Defense, which references the FAA spec, and other federal agencies. This is a big deal – a big win for NPCA and the precast concrete industry and the result of a lot of hard work and constant follow-up. When we tell NPCA members we’re “working for you,” this is exactly what we mean!
President, National Precast Concrete Association