Evaluation of Airport Pavement Base Layer Stiffness Characteristics via Embedded Field Sensors

Mingu Kang, Han Wang, Issam I.A. Qamhia, Erol Tutumluer, Navneet Garg, Wilfredo Villafane, Scott Murrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Real-time stiffness monitoring of unbound aggregate layers using embedded field sensors is crucial for advanced airport pavement design and management. This paper describes research findings on monitoring base layer stiffness characteristics for airport pavements using an embedded bender element (BE) field sensor, inductive coil sensors, and pressure cells. A full-scale pavement test section was constructed at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s National Airport Pavement Test Facility (NAPTF). A BE field sensor, inductive coil sensor pairs, and pressure cells were installed in the unbound aggregate base to evaluate the layer stiffness, applied load stress, and deformation characteristics. A triple dual tandem gear loading module applied 58,000 lb per wheel to the tested section with a wander pattern consisting of 66 passes arranged in nine lateral wander positions. Dynamic responses of coil sensors and pressure cells were collected during the traffic test, whereas BE signals were collected after completing each wander pattern. Laboratory repeated load triaxial tests with BE instrumentation were also conducted to establish a correlation for converting BE field sensor readings to layer modulus properties. The in situ modulus characteristics of the aggregate base layer were evaluated during full-scale testing using two methods: shear wave velocities from a BE field sensor, and strain and stress measurements from coil sensors and pressure cells. The moduli estimated using both approaches fell into typical ranges of crushed aggregate bases and were highly comparable. The moduli from the dynamic sensor measurements clearly showed the effect of vehicle wander on aggregate base layer measured responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-473
Number of pages12
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • airport pavement
  • base course
  • infrastructure
  • layer modulus
  • mechanistic analysis
  • pavement sensor
  • pavement structural testing and evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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