Saab History Reviews Saab 9-5 Friction Tester Boston, MA

Posted on 22. Apr, 2009 by in 2000-2009, 9-5, Boston, Massachusetts

The Saab Friction Tester Program has been running with a company called Sarsys in connection with Saab Automobile AB, formerly Saab-Scania AB since the mid-seventies.

12.jpgSarsys with head offices in Trelleborg, Sweden; continue to push the envelope when it comes to intelligent design and engineering of the Saab friction tester systems that are well integrated in the Saab automobiles, in order to keep the runways safe at airports all around the world.

The first Saab friction tester or SFT for short, first debuted in a Saab 99 and since then the it has been outfitted in a Saab 900, 9000, NG900, 9-3 and the 9-5.

Today, there are many Saab Friction Testers in use from an original 1986 Saab 900 in Burlington, Vermont to two facelifted Saab 9-5 SFT’s in Munich, Germany.

41.jpgAccording to rumor, there has been talk about an old Saab 900 that has been operating at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts. As part of my quest for more information, I managed to get in touch with the folks that manage Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, Massport to set up a visit to explore this further.

As part of my visit thanks to the folks at Massport after arriving on a SAAB 340, I learned that this rumor was in fact true, however that 1986 Saab 900 was replaced in 2005, with what but another Saab, this time a 2005 Saab 9-5 Wagon/Combi.

This opportunity involved getting the chance to literally be escorted out onto the runway at Logan International Airport with an experienced Saab Friction Tester pilot from Massport. As we drove out onto the runway, I got to learn about not only why the SFT was chosen again due to it’s unique integration of systems that no other competitor has been able to match, but also it’s all-weather abilities that are unique to Saab. The timing of opportunity was done in the spring/summer/fall (maintenance mode) part of the year opposed to the most demanding time, the winter otherwise scheduling may not have permitted.

21.jpgThe runway testing began with an overview on systems, then a run-through on how the systems operated in motion as we drove at a steady 40mph in this rightsized 4-cylinder 2.3t powered Saab 9-5 complete with automatic transmission and paddle shifters.

The object with the friction tester is to be able to accurately report friction coefficients on all of the runways at any given time. The system that is well integrated into the SFT, involves the following.     

* An electronic calibration friction coefficient measuring system with handheld device.
* A 350 gallon water tank spanning rear seats and trunk.
* A hydraulic wheel that is controlled to be raised and lowered onto the runway that sprays water onto the wheel to be measured.
* A reduced fuel tank of only 5 gallons.

After experiencing a few run-throughs of the system in operation from start to finish spanning approximately 1,500 feet on a few runways, I got the surprise of a lifetime. I was handed the keys as I was offered to test drive the Saab Friction Tester myself literally on the same runway at Logan Airport.

scan.jpgAs you will see as part of the video provided, I managed to keep the speed limit around 40 with some variations, I finally got to experience a modern Saab Friction Tester from the driver’s seat.

I have said it before and I will say it again, it continues to make me happy that Saab Automobile, born from jets and known for safety on the roads and in the air, utilizes an automobile to ensure safety for their aircraft counterparts.

It is my hope that my review (writeup & video), not only proves that the rumor that this Saab Friction Tester exists, but it serves as an educational and informational example of the need for Saab Friction Testers at not only Saab’s number one market in the United States (the North East region) but other airports that strongly value safety for any and all of their commercial and freight aircraft.

31.jpgTest driving a Saab Friction Tester at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, a major international airport in that represents a region which has one of the largest amounts of Saabs per capita in the United States was a an opportunity that I will never forget.

I want to thank all of the folks at Massport that managed to take time out of their day to organize the necessary logistics and schedules in order for me to have this experience to share with others here on Saab History.

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6 Responses to “Saab History Reviews Saab 9-5 Friction Tester Boston, MA”

  1. DaveF

    22. Apr, 2009

    Up until about a year ago Albany International Airport (Albany, NY) was still using their 1986 Saab 900 friction tester. Simply because of the age of the Saab, a contract
    was let for a new friction tester. Unfortunately, because
    of a “buy American requirement” the new unit could not
    be a Saab. I do not know the disposition of the Saab, but
    usually AIA puts surplus equipment on eBay.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Ryan

    22. Apr, 2009


    Albany Airport still have both actually, the 1986 Saab 900 as well as a new 9-5 Saab Friction Tester.


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  3. Saab_lover

    26. Apr, 2009

    “SAAB One, do you have Massport approval?” Priceless-

    Reply to this comment
  4. Rolf Larson

    26. Apr, 2009

    “SAAB One, say vehicle type” RL

    Reply to this comment
  5. Ryan

    20. Aug, 2009


    Glad you liked it! 🙂

    Reply to this comment
  6. Ben H.

    07. Apr, 2016

    The (1986) is now under my ownership. Any photos or sources to the photos would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply to this comment

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