ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — After a cold and snowy winter, the Chicago Rockford International Airport is working on its annual maintenance, including painting the runways.
Deputy Director of Operations & Planning, Zach Oakley, says the airport uses 750 gallons of paint in one day to repaint the pavement markings, using 12,000 gallons of paint in a single year.
“All the markings mean something to the pilots,” Oakley said. “This is everything for the aircraft. Some of these markings on the runway, the pilots are looking at…to help them on their approach, to gauge where they’re going to touch down, to make sure they have enough room to land and roll out. So, everything here has a purpose for the pilot.”
Maintenance supervisor Josh VanBriesen says another big project is mowing the 1,000 acre lawn, which must be cut between 5 and 8 inches.
“The reason to keep the height is that its the best hope they found for small mammals, to keep the hawks and birds flying around and back into the plane,” he said. “There were traps set last week for squirrels. I think they got 11 or 12.”
The Federal Aviation Administration estimates there are over 10,000 bird strikes each year, averaging 26 hits a day, worldwide.
The Rockford airport had 37 reported strikes to aircraft in 2022.
The airport also checks the runway’s electrical system and patches and potholes.
Oakley says they inspect the runaway and grass every day and every shift.
“You could damage an aircraft,” he said. “It’s not just large aircraft landing at the airport. You have smaller aircraft. It’s all safety of flight-type stuff that you’re monitoring, and maintaining. That’s why, all throughout the entire day, our operations staff is constantly inspecting the field.”
The airport hopes to have its summer maintenance done by the end of the week.