Request for Proposal
Project 04-03
Implementation of Superpave Mix Design for Airfield Pavements

Proposals Due October 13, 2005 at 4:00 P.M. CST

Airfield Asphalt Pavement
Technology Program (AAPTP)


From October 1987 to March 1993 the Strategic Highway Research Program conducted a $50 million research effort to develop new ways to design and test Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA). A major product from that work was the development of a new mix design procedure. This methodology is now in use by most of the state DOTs. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to use the Asphalt Institute Manual Series No 2. (specifically the Marshall Method) for HMA mixes. The Marshall mix design method has produced millions of tons of acceptable hot mix asphalt airfield pavement through the years. In 1999, FAA issued interim guidance, Engineering Brief No. 59 (available at in an attempt to establish a link between 50-blow and 75-blow mixes and the gyratory compaction method. This study is to conclusively equate the Superpave methodology to the current FAA Marshall Mix Design procedures and to provide guidance to the FAA on specific procedures to correct consistently identified field problems. The guidance shall be formulated to provide an equivalent (or higher) level of performance to that achieved from current Marshall mixes. It is anticipated that this guidance will be applicable to military airfields and consideration should be given to the DOD airfield requirements and standards. FAA realizes that the Superpave Mix Design Method dominates the industry and that laboratory and technician expertise in using the Marshall Method may not be universally available in the future. FAA needs industry accepted practices, procedures, and methods along with process control and acceptance recommendations to include in a standard specification that incorporates Superpave methodology.


The objective of this study is to provide solid comparative information between Superpave and Marshall mix design and develop guidance on the procedures needed to implement the Superpave mix designs for design, quality control, and acceptance of airfield asphalt pavement projects. This evaluation must include all of the Superpave mix design requirements, such as but not limited to volumetric properties, gyration levels and aggregate requirements and related production and acceptance tolerances. This guidance must be scalable from light load general aviation airport pavements to heavy aircraft loadings at commercial service airports and and military airfields. The research must consider, but not be limited to, addressing the following:

  1. Tire pressure
  2. Tire loading
  3. Channelized traffic
  4. Loading repetitions
  5. Pavement temperature both high and low
  6. Speed
  7. Non-traffic areas (shoulders, blast pads, paved overruns, etc)
  8. Operational characteristics unique to airfield environment, including grooving, rubber removal, aircraft and pavement deicing operations, and skid resistance requirements.
  9. Layer thickness/max aggregate size compatibility.


The products from this applied research effort will be fully documented guidance on the procedures and processes needed to incorporate Superpave technologies into FAA/DOD standard airfield mix design practice. This will be accomplished in three phases as follows:

Phase I - Program Review
In this phase the research agency will review current FAA/DOD guidance, review available literature, and conduct interviews with airfield pavement personnel to determine what problems or successes they are having with Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) airfield pavements. The research agency must include geographic distribution and size {classification major commercial and general aviation (corporate vs. recreational)} of projects in this evaluation. (For instance, FAA pavement thickness design guidance contained in FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5320-6 Airport Pavement Design and Evaluation is generally separated by aircraft gross weight. 12,500 pounds and under, 60,000 pounds and under. Over 60,000 pounds, additional requirements take effect when aircraft gross weight is 100,000 pounds or more. FAA pavement construction guidance contained in FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5370-10 Standards for Specifying Construction of Airports includes mixture design requirements separated into two categories according to aircraft gross weight and/or tire pressure.) The research agency in their response must provide detailed information on how and to what extent interviews will be conducted.

Task 1 -- Review existing airfield asphalt pavement mix design procedures (FAA and DOD) and interview actual airfield pavement personnel to define pavement mix design procedures that result in good and poor airfield pavement performance.

Task 2 -- Review and evaluate individualized airport specifications and mix design procedures being presently used that have evolved from FAA standards and guidelines.

Task 3 -- Develop and recommend an approach to adapting Superpave techniques and procedures to airfield pavements. The performance grade binder recommendations are being evaluated under AAPTP research project 04-02 and thus do not need to be considered in this project. The research agency will be kept informed of the research being done in the other contract.

Task 4 -- Develop field and laboratory investigation plans that are to be conducted in Phase II to facilitate adapting Superpave techniques for airfield pavements that clearly demonstrate its equal or better performance when compared to existing practice.

Task 5 -- Make presentation of results of Phase I to Technical Panel.

Phase II -- Conduct Investigations
In this phase of the project, the research agency will conduct the field and laboratory investigations as proposed in Task 4 and as approved by the technical panel. It is anticipated that this phase will be the bulk of the work of this project.

Task 6 -- Conduct field investigation program.

Task 7 -- Conduct laboratory investigation program.

Phase III Reports
In this phase of the project the research agency shall develop draft and final reports. All reports will be submitted in both hard copy and electronic copy format. All written documentation will be prepared using Microsoft Word. All reports will be the property of the AAPTP program and will be supplied in a format that complies with the FAA Section 508 requirements for electronic documents. A policy statement for Section 508 can be found at, and the Section 508 website, a summary and list of standards, can be found at http://www.section5 0

Task 8 -- Draft report - The research agency should submit a preliminary draft in electric format for review by the project technical panel. Upon completion of this review, comments will be provided to the research agency.

Task 9 -- Presentation of findings to technical panel - Approximately one month after the research agency has received and reviewed the comments from the project technical panel a meeting will be set up for the project technical panel and the research agency to review the project findings and changes to the draft report. The research agency should be prepared to make a presentation at this meeting that will cover all aspects of the project.

Task 10 -- Deliver final report - Within thirty days of this meeting, the research agency will submit to AAPTP a final report that incorporates the reviewers' comments and reflects editing by a competent technical editor.

Evaluation of Proposals

Selection of an agency is made only by a technical panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; and (5) the adequacy of the facilities.

Reporting Requirements

Progress Reports

Quarterly progress reports (2 hard copies and an electronic copy in Microsoft Word format) are required from the research agency and are to be prepared on the basis of calendar quarters. The research agency will mail the progress report directly to the AAPTP and will e-mail a copy to each of the technical review panel members. Each report will include a cover letter and the following:

  1. a clear and complete description of the work performed on each task during that quarter;
  2. an outline of the work to be accomplished during the next quarter;
  3. a description of any problem(s) encountered or anticipated that might affect the completion of the project within the time and fiscal constraints recommended;
  4. potential solutions to problems identified in (c) if any exist.

Report Format

The report formats for Interim and Final reports are provided under Documents and Forms at bottom of page.

Contractual Information

Funds Available: $450,000

Contract Time: 24 months (Phase I -- 6 months, which includes 1 month for AAPTP review and approval of the plan; Phase II and III -- 18 months, which includes 3 months for AAPTP to review and for the contractor to revise the final report.)

Accreditation: Any laboratory performing work on this study should be fully accredited by the AASHTO Materials Reference Laboratory or similar accreditation organization to do asphalt mix design testing and aggregate testing. Laboratories not fully accredited must provide information as to procedures or processes used to meet quality standard equivalent to accreditation.

Inquiries: Prospective proposers may make written inquiries concerning this RFP to obtain a clarification of requirements. No inquiries will be accepted after September 21, 2005. Questions must be submitted in writing on the proposing agency's letterhead to:

Monte Symons
Director, AAPTP
277 Technology Parkway
Auburn, AL 36830
Phone: (334) 844-6228
Fax: (334) 844-6248

Oral presentations: Proposers may be asked to make an oral presentation to the AAPTP technical panel for this project. This presentation will be at Auburn University. Any requested oral presentation will be solely for the benefit of the evaluation process to assist the technical panel in making a final proposal selection, and will be at the proposing agency's expense. If invited to make a presentation, the proposer should be prepared to participate upon a week's notice and to answer any possible questions of clarification related to the RFP requirements or the proposal submitted in response to this RFP solicitation.

Proposal Due: October 13, 2005

Authorization to Begin Work: November 7, 2005 -- estimated

Maintained by Linda Kerr