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Stress Analysis of the Phoenix Compacted Snow Runway to Support Wheeled Aircraft
Dr. Sally Shoop, P.E.
Cold REgions Research and Engineering Laboratory, US Army
Landing wheeled aircraft on snow runways is uncommon and minimally documented. Numerical modeling was used to evaluate design the construction of the new compacted-snow Phoenix runway in Antarctica for the first wheeled C17 aircraft landing. Snow density from the target design and snow density of the as-built Phoenix runway structure were used to determine basic elastic parameters for use in Layered Elastic Analysis Formulation (LEAF). LEAF is part of a software package developed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that allows for forward calculation of runway stress, strain, displacement, and associated principal stress and strain based on design aircraft loading. Stress responses for the Phoenix runway were modeled for the C17, A319, and B757 aircraft. Two construction vehicles were also modeled for comparison. This is the first time the model was used for a snow runway and it provided valuable insight for design, construction and runway performance for the first landing of the C17 on compacted snow. The successful construction and use of the new compacted-snow Phoenix runway is significant and demonstrates the heaviest wheeled aircraft (C17) operating on a compacted snow runway, ever.
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