Each year in America, thousands of flights are delayed or cancelled due to snow, ice, freezing rain, and freezing fog. According to The Wall Street Journal, over 70,000 flights were cancelled due to weather in 2014.
For travelers, being stuck at the airport due to freezing conditions is an inconvenience. For airlines, it can mean millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Fortunately, young transportation engineers like Joseph Daniels are working to eliminate flight cancellations due to winter weather. Daniels is a third-year civil engineering doctoral student at the University of Arkansas who is researching heated runways.
Daniels and his peers are experimenting with ways to heat airport runways so that snow and ice would simply melt on impact to prevent them from accumulating on the runway. The heating system uses embedded wires to heat the pavement.
While heated floors and sidewalks have been around for quite some time, no one has developed a heated runway for a variety of reasons.
According to Daniels, generating enough electricity to heat a runway consumes a significant amount of energy and is extremely expensive to operate because pavement acts as a natural heat absorber. However, Daniels and his team have a promising solution; after installation, the heating system they designed will operate on solar power at virtually zero cost. If this solution proves to be effective airports all over the world could afford this technology.
It comes as no shock that Daniels received the prestigious Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship to conduct his heated runway research because it has the potential to save billions of dollars and countless hours in travel delays.
There are lots of problems in the transportation system that need to be solved. To achieve your own success in the transportation industry, just look around for the problems and solve them.
Check out Daniel’s interview to learn more, and keep following Fast Forward for the latest transportation career news and information!