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FAA William J.

Hughes Technical Center


Airport Technology R&D Branch, AJP-6310 (AAR-410)

COMFAA is a program for computing flexible and rigid Aircraft Classification


Numbers (ACNs) and pavement thickness. It is installed by running Setup.exe
either with the files on a hard disk or from 2 HD floppies. The program will
only run under Windows 95 or NT, or higher.

Although the program allows the user to calculate ACN values for any
aircraft,
it should be remembered that official ACN values are provided by the
manufacturer
of a particular aircraft.

The program is used for pavement thickness design in the procedure required
for PCN determination by the technical evaluation method, as described in FAA
Advisory Circular 150/5335-5A "Standardized Method of Reporting Airport
Pavement
Strength - PCN."

A help file is included which gives brief information on the capabilities of


the
program and how to use the various features. It would probably be useful to
print
the help file for reference as there is no other documentation describing
operation
of the program. An additional report describes the procedures used to compute
pavement strength and thickness.

The external aircraft file contains the landing gears used as examples in the
ICAO
pavement design manual. English units are used throughout.

We would appreciate any comments you may have on the program with regard to
errors,
features that don’t work properly, features that could be added, etc.

The ACNs are computed using the International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO)
methodology. It is not an official FAA standard, specification or regulation,
nor
is it intended as a substitute for official guidance on reporting ACNs
contained
in ICAO publications. It is believed that the ACNs computed by this program
are
generally consistent with those reported by ICAO for specific aircraft, but
in the
event of conflict, the latter shall be considered authoritative.

In 1997, ICAO's ACN-PCN Study Group recommended that an interim alpha factor
of
0.72 at 10,000 coverages be used for computing ACN for 6-wheeled landing
gears.
By default, the ACN values for 6-wheel aircraft gear configuration including
the
Boeing B-777 airplane are computed using this interim modified alpha factor.
The standard ACN cutoff for rigid pavement stress computation is 3 times the
radius
of relative stiffness (rrs). This gives inconsistent results with large
complex gear
configurations such as the C-17 (high-strength ACN higher than low-strength
ACN).
An option is therefore provided to change the cutoff. This sometimes leads to
numerical problems and the numerical procedure may not converge.

Flexible pavement thickness design with COMFAA follows the same methodology
used to
produce the thickness design charts published in FAA AC 150/5320-6. That is,
for a
given subgrade CBR and a given number of coverages for the design aircraft,
total
pavement thickness is computed by the "CBR" method. The user has to determine
the
design aircraft and make the conversion from aircraft departures to design
aircraft
coverages. Conversion of layer thicknesses with appropriate equivalency
factors
must also be done by the user.

Rigid pavement thickness design with COMFAA follows the same methodology used
to
produce the thickness design charts published in FAA AC 150/5320-6. That is,
for a
given modulus of subgrade reaction and a given number of coverages for the
design
aircraft, total pavement thickness is computed by the Westergaard edge stress
method
with FAA failure criteria. The user has to determine the design aircraft and
make
the conversion from aircraft departures to design aircraft coverages.
Conversion of
support layers to effective modulus of subgrade reaction must also be done by
the
user.

June 8, 2004
1. Added the capability to change the size of the main window.
2. Changed metric unit for rigid pavement support stiffness, k, to MN/m^3.
3. Changed the display of the k value to remain continuously visible during
rigid
pavement thickness design.
4. Changed the display of the CBR value to give two decimal places and to
remain
continuously visible during flexible pavement thickness design.
5. Added the number of main gears and the single-wheel load to the detailed
output
display for flexible pavement ACN and thickness design.

June 5, 2006
1. Added pass-to-coverage for flexible and rigid. All internal calculations
are
still based on coverages. Pass-to-coverage was added so that users of the
new
pavement strength AC (AC 150/5335-5A) can convert departures to coverages
for any
aircraft in COMFAA, even those defined by the user. Calculation of pass-
to-
coverage is completely automatic and requires no setup or input from the
user.
2. The Boeing and McDonnell-Douglas aircraft libraries have been updated and
expanded.
3. The order of listing subgrade strength in the output data table has been
reversed. The lowest strength subgrade is now listed first.

September 26, 2006


1. Added an additional set of new alpha factors (the '06 Alphas) at 10,000
coverages
to match the new ICAO numbers for 4- and 6-wheel gears.
2. Added an additional set of new alpha factor versus coverages curves to
match the
new ICAO alpha factors at 10,000 coverages.
3. The old ICAO alpha factors are the default. The '06 Alphas can be selected
with
a check box. An explanatory note is displayed when the '06 Alphas are
selected.

November 29, 2006


1. Added annual departures for flexible and rigid pavements in the airplane
parameter grid. Traffic data is still stored in the airplane libraries as
coverages. New traffic data can be stored in the libraries by clicking
Coverages
or either of the cells for annual departures, but only in the pavement
thickness
design mode. In ACN mode, the values of annual departures always
correspond to
the standard 10,000 coverages used to calculate ACN.

February 6, 2007
1. Renamed the program COMFAA 2.0 to acknowledge the inclusion of the new
alpha
factors as an option and the computation of pass-to-coverage ratios.
2. Expanded the internal airplane library to include a full list of Airbus
airplanes
except for A340-500/600 models. The A340-500/600 models will be included
when
definitive belly gear load characteristics are provided to the FAA. In the
mean time, please consult the Airbus airport planning manual to obtain ACN
values
or gear dimensions and loading. The gear dimensions and loads can be
entered
manually into the COMFAA external airplane library if desired.

February 2, 2008
1. Extended the input range for concrete flxural strength from 500 to 900 psi
to
200 to 2,000 psi.