Painted markings on the taxiways at Lubbock International Airport are chipping off, in violation of federal standards, and must be replaced, the Federal Aviation Administration has told the city.
And the airport has already missed one deadline to repair the problem.
Lubbock Convention & Visitors Bureau
|The airport, which opened in 1937, is the eighth-busiest airport in Texas.|
An FAA inspection May 15-17 “revealed that the airport was not being operated and maintained in compliance with all of the requirements of Federal Aviation Regulation," according to the FAA’s Letter of Correction, which was sent June 11 and recently released by the City of Lubbock.
Chipping Paint Debris
The report cites two violations related to painted markings on the taxiways at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport, Texas’s eighth-busiest airport, which opened in 1937. The issue involves thick paint chips that could potentially be sucked into jet engines.
"The paint on the taxiway centerline edge markings, and the enhanced taxiway centerline were found to be thick and chipping, causing a foreign object debris hazard,” the FAA’s letter says. “Paint must be physically removed."
The letter adds: "We have given consideration to all available facts and concluded that this matter does not warrant legal action at this time. In lieu of such action, we are issuing this letter of correction, which will be made a matter of record."
Airport executive director James Loomis blamed the problem on “old paint and years of buildup from multiple coats of the reflective paint,” the local Avalanche-Journal reported.
Loomis said the paint chips posed “no potential hazard” and called the FAA’s conclusion “a discrepancy that is subjective to an inspector.” Nevertheless, the city will fix the paint, he said.
No Immediate Danger
Lubbock and FAA officials say the problem does not pose an immediate safety threat. If the issue threatened lives, regulators would order the airport to shut down the taxiway sections in question, an FAA spokesman told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
On the other hand, the FAA gave the city 60 days to fix the paint, and the city notified the FAA in July that the airport could not meet that deadline.
"Even with an aggressive schedule of day-and-night work, the project is estimated to take a minimum of eight weeks to complete, without any weather/equipment delays factored in." Steve Nicholson, Deputy Director of Operations & Safety, wrote the agency, KCBD reported.
The city told the FAA that the airport would bid the project July 17, receive City Council approval for the funding Aug. 9, and execute the contract by about Aug. 15.
That schedule is apparently playing out, as the City Council recently approved spending $360,000 to remove the old paint and recoat the taxiways.
Hi-Lite Markings Inc. of New York was the sole bidder for the project, but airport engineers sought prices from other companies to ensure the bid was reasonable, the city said, according to the Avalanche-Journal.
|Airport coating contractor Hi-Lite Markings will perform the taxiway coatings removal and repaint project.|
Established in 1979, Hi-Lite Markings bills itself as the leading airport runway and taxiway marking contractor in North America. The company specializes in runway rubber removal and paint removal, surface preparation, pavement maintenance and friction testing.