Airspading: Soil excavation techniques utilizing a proprietary compressed air-powered tool incorporating a supersonic nozzle.

Approved Contractor: Operator with sufficient education, training, and experience in vacuum excavation and airspading.

Backfill: Refilling the void created by excavation.

CFM: Cubic Feet per Minute (cu ft/min). Measurement of the rate of flow of air passing through an orifice.

Compressed Air Excavation: Non-mechanical, non-destructive process utilizing compressed air and paired with a vacuum to simultaneously excavate and evacuate soil.

Damage: Impact or exposure that results in the need to repair an underground facility due to weakening, or partial or complete destruction of the facility. This includes, but is not limited to, the protective coating, lateral support, cathodic protection, or housing for the line, device, or facility.

Damage Reporting: Immediate report of damage caused or discovered in the course of excavation or demolition work to a One Call Center, occupants of premises, or emergency responders.

Emergency: Sudden or unforeseen occurrence involving a clear and imminent danger to life, health, or property. Interruption of essential utility services or blockage of transportation facilities requiring immediate action.

Excavate or Excavation: Operations using non-mechanized or mechanized equipment, demolition, or explosives in the movement of earth, rock, or other material below existing grade.

Excavator: Person(s) or companies engaged in excavation or demolition work.

Facility: Underground or submerged conductor, pipe, or structure used to provide electric, telecommunications, gas, oil or oil products, sewage, water, storm drainage, or other services.

Finish Grade: Elevation of surfaces after completion of construction or excavation.

Hand-Digging: Soil excavation using hand tools such as shovels and picks to expose facilities.

Hydro Excavation: Non-mechanical, non-destructive process utilizing pressurized water and paired with a vacuum to simultaneously excavate and evacuate soil.

Joint Trench: Trench containing two or more facilities that are buried together by design or agreement.

Keyholing: Specialized version of potholing using soft excavation where the objective is to minimize pavement disruption.

Locate: Confirm the existence of lines or facilities by establishing a mark through the use of stakes, paint, flagging, whiskers, or some other customary manner that determines the location of that line or facility.

Locator: Person or company with the job of locating underground lines or facilities.

Muck: Waste material consisting of soil and water as a byproduct of hydro excavation.

Near Miss: Event where damage did not occur, but a clear potential for damage was identified.

Planning: Gathering information before the start of a project to aid in decision-making regarding the route or location of a proposed excavation based on constraints, including the location of existing facilities, anticipated conflicts, and costs of relocating existing facilities or construction of proposed facilities.

Potholing: Excavation method creating a test hole to expose underground infrastructure to determine the location and/or repair the facility.

Pre-Marking or Positive Site Identification: Marking of the proposed excavation site/work area consistent with APWA guidelines.

PSI: Pounds per Square Inch (lbs/sq in) measurement of air pressure.

Root Cause: Primary reason an event occurred.

Safety Excess Flow Check Valve: Automatically closes if a downstream air hose is cut, ruptures, or accidentally uncouples, thus preventing the hose from whipping. Automatically resets, after repair to the air system. Also referred to as an “Air Fuse.”


SCFM: Standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM) Flow rate of air corrected to “standardized” conditions of temperature and pressure.

Soft Excavation: Excavation by dry (compressed air) or hydro (high-pressure water) in conjunction with a powerful vacuum.

Slurry: Semi-liquid mixture of soil particles suspended in water.

Spoil: Waste material including earth and rock uncovered during the excavation process.

Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE): Engineering process to identify underground utility information needed for excavation plans, and for acquiring and managing information during project development.

Supersonic Nozzle: High-efficiency, proprietary nozzle design and technology unique to AirSpade.

Test Hole: Exposure of underground facilities to determine the horizontal and vertical location.

Tolerance Zone: Space immediately surrounding a facility where special care is taken.

Trenching: Method of digging a trench to install, maintain, or inspect pipes, conduits, or cables underground.

Utility AirSpade: Pneumatic soil excavation tool with safety features required by the utility and construction industries.

Vacuum Excavation: Means of soil extraction using a powerful vacuum.