Ice Rinks and Airports Have Something In Common

It’s common to see a Zamboni machine resurfacing the ice before hockey games, but ice rinks aren’t the only businesses using the Zamboni method. Airports also use a Zamboni-like machine that operates on the same premise, only using high-pressured water. When a plane lands, the tires aren’t spinning. It takes time for the tires to get up to speed, and during this time they’re effectively dragging on the runway. This can be seen in the slight puff of smoke that comes from a landing aircraft’s tires as they first touch the runway. The buildup of rubber affects the level of friction on the runway, which can lead to incidents such as runway overrun or a lateral slide off the runway. Much the same way Zamboni machines trim the ice off a rink, trucks use high-pressured water to break the hardened rubber free from the runway. The FAA specifies friction levels for safe operation of planes and airports incorporate rubber removal into their maintenance schedules based on the number of take offs and landings that each airport experiences.