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How Do Airports Handle Snow?  
User currently offlineMozart From Luxembourg, joined Aug 2003, 2182 posts, RR: 13
Posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 9338 times:

I've been in an intensive exchange in several post on this forum for accusing ADP (the Paris airport managements company) for being absolutely incompetent on handling the slightest bit of cold weather or snow. Whenever three flakes fill the sky, there are huge delays and cancellations justified by the "snow". Well, having experienced the much harsher winters on the US East Coast as well as inEurope in cities like ZRH, MUC, FRA, MXP or VIE, I think ADP has a very lame excuse here. Airports there do close down as well when there are real blizzards and the like, but it takes a lot more before this happens.

How do these airports (Canada might come to mind as well) manage to remain operative almost as normal when winter comes in (excluding blizzards)?

26 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineMighluss From Spain, joined Oct 2001, 948 posts, RR: 8
Reply 1, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 9132 times:

The same in BCN... on monday snowed just a little (well, great event here!) and they had to cancel about 180 flights, and lots of delays! they needed half an hour to deice just one aircraft!


Miquel.
User currently offlineFlpuck6 From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 2123 posts, RR: 29
Reply 2, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 9066 times:

Boston: BOS does relatively well. There have been a few storms where they have managed to keep one runway and the necessary taxiways open and cleared. I remember one storm in February of 2003, only 5 flights arrived and left and they were all international. Then there was the blizzard of January 2005, however, which did force the airport to close for a little over 24 hours. Consequently I spent 2 nights at the airport Hilton!


Not sure if you can see the extent of the snow. This was the morning after the storm. 75cm.


This aircraft was pretty much snowed in!

Boston has very well equiped snow plows, I think they come from Scandinavia.

The only thing I might critique Boston about is that the airport authority does not offer de-icing, it's each company that has to handle its own de-icing, unlike at Denver or Cincinnati for example. They have a "car wash" concept with dedicated de-icing pads. But this is also a question of space and money of course!

The other problem is that while the airport does well at clearing runways and taxiways they do a half-a$$ job at cleaning the ramps, where the ramp teams need to work! Pulling cargo and baggage containers can be a difficult task sometimes.



Bonjour Chef!
User currently offlineEisenbach From Austria, joined Mar 2001, 112 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 8901 times:

Vienna Airport was in the past often closed during snow storms - but only for some few hours. The problem is aliases the blowing snow. Within minutes the runway is completely white again.

Surprising were the last snow storms in Vienna (in February). This year the were able to keep everything clear - and there were no large delays (OK Vienna is not such a big Airport).

Very nice are the conditions in Lapland. They even didn't clear the RWY of snow. I had a very nice landing with an A321 on a snowy runway (including forward live forward view during landing). I never heard such strange noises during landing and taxiing (snow under the tires).

ciao
stef



Do228, Saab340, Twin-Otter, C212, Fokker50, AN24, ATR42, ATR72, Dash8-400Q, MD90, MD83, EMB120, A300, A343, B721, B743,.
User currently offlineSK A340 From Sweden, joined Mar 2000, 845 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 8909 times:

Quoting Mozart (reply 0):
How Do Airports Handle Snow?


They have a lot of snow plows. Even at a relatively small airport like ARN it's quite an impressing sight to see the snow plow parking lot in the summer when they are all in. It's a lot of them and they are huge.

Eisenbach: I've had the same experience in Lappland and Norway as well. Is it really that important to have the runway clear of the snow? Aircrafts doesn't have driving on the wheels, right? But, of course, they have brakes on the wheels, which implies that they need some sort of friction...

/Micke

[Edited 2005-03-02 16:08:31]

User currently offlineEilennaei From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 8869 times:

HEL employs an array of around max 20 vehicles on one runway at the time. If the mechanical brushing/blowing is insufficient for the required friction coefficient, asetates will be used. Salts are out of the question as they're corrosive. A runway can be cleared in 10 minutes.

The current info on Finnish SNOWTAMs is here:
http://www.ilmailulaitos.fi/ais/aica/A/A2004/A0052004.pdf

More information on equipment, etc. is available on request, they say as well.

regards,
Eilennaei

[Edited 2005-03-02 16:33:13]

[Edited 2005-03-02 16:34:11]

[Edited 2005-03-02 16:38:21]

User currently offlineOpsGuy From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 57 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 8844 times:

Many airports will contract out snow removal to large companies in an effort to assist their maintenance departments. EWR, LGA, and JFK for example all use a company called Global Ground. Global Ground is responsible for clearing all around the terminals, and the Port Authority is then responsible for clearing the runways and taxiways. If the Port Authority had to clear the terminals as well, they wouldn't be able to spend as much time, and devote as much equipment to keeping the runways and taxiways clear.

Airports that see a lot of snow fall also have snow plans. These snow plans are written manuals developed to create the most effective methods for snow removal. Ideas are written in them, tested during snow storms, and if they work they are adapted into the plan, if not, then the idea is tossed. The plan also ensures that every time the trucks role out, the snow removal is the same. All the equipment starts in one area, and ends in the same. That way you don’t have trucks riding all over the field and leaving areas unplowed. Coordination by all parties is very important, you want to make sure everyone is traveling in the same direction and areas that should be plowed are getting done.

Many airports will assign priority areas in their snow plans. For example, the main runways and main taxiways would be considered priority 1. Throughout the storm the snow team would work on keeping priority 1 open to ensure that flights could get in. Priority 2 would consist of any runways that are not used that often, and secondary taxiways that are not needed used all the time for aircraft movement. These areas would usually be handled after the storm has subsided. The last priority is 3, these areas are usually tie downs, or areas where air traffic movement will be almost nonexistent until after the storm. These are usually the last areas to be cleaned.

Besides coordinating truck movements, snow placement is also very important. You do not want to have high snow banks along the runways and taxiways. These high snow banks block signs, lights, pilot views, and can be a hazard to aircraft with low wings. You also don’t want snow banks to be blown back out on the runway; drifting snow can be both a hazard and an annoyance.

There is a lot involved in snow removal. Area’s that don’t frequently get a lot of snow fall may not have such in depth snow removal plans, and will usually just make do with what they have. But areas that do get lots of snow, especially in the Northeast are better suited to handle the snow and are less often to close. Snow removal in general is a costly task. You need to purchase equipment and maintain that equipment. So, fiscally it does not make sense for airports that get a snow storm once in a great to purchase tons of snow removal equipment. They just make do with what they have. I hope this helps.



Is this the Delta House?
User currently offlineLhrstu From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 111 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 8774 times:

I think the problem with a lot of the airports in the UK and, by the sounds of it, Paris are that we don`t always get snow in the winter and when we do, it is rarely large amounts. So there is no incentive to provide all the (expensive) equipement required to cope with snow when it does come.

Stu


User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 6039 posts, RR: 14
Reply 8, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 8659 times:

Many of the smaller airports that I dispatch to, plow, sweep, AND put potassium acetate on the runways and taxiways. It tends to work at keeping the surfaces contaminate free during light snow falls.


Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
User currently offlineFlyBeQ400 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 222 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 8521 times:

In the case of Kent Int'l (Manston) airport the answer seems to be: not very well.

http://www.eujet.com/EN/ask/newsalert.asp

I believe it was closed all of today, which is a little worrying as I'm not sure there has been *that* much snow.


User currently offlineAgill From Sweden, joined Feb 2004, 1011 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 8485 times:

Mozart: But it is much easier for airports, that regularly get a lot of snow, to be well prepared and have an efficient infrastructure compared to places like Paris where (I assume) snow in general is quite scarce.

User currently offlineZRH From Switzerland, joined Nov 1999, 5568 posts, RR: 35
Reply 11, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 8480 times:

Actually we here in Zurich didn't have much snow in the past winters. But nevertheless Zurich-Airport has a large fleet of snow plows and other needed equipment. In this winter we got quite a lot of snow and even worse very cold temperatures (less than -18 C or about -1 F). But as I know the airport was never closed and almost no flights had to be cancelled because of the weather. Of course there were some delays.

[Edited 2005-03-03 01:38:26]

User currently offlineAogdesk From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 935 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 8467 times:

Buffalo, New York, known for its lake-effect snowfalls that can pile up more than a foot of snow in no time usually executes its snow removal very well. We're a medium size airport (as designated by DOT), small in actuality, but the plows and blowers work pretty hard to keep runways and taxiways clean. Its very rare that runway clutter is a problem, visibility is another issue. Cargo ramps are maintained by a private contractor with assistance from the airport authority if they're available. They're actually impressive to watch.

User currently offlineUA772IAD From Australia, joined Jul 2004, 1730 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 8450 times:

I didn't really peruse the posts, but it's also worth it to mention that in addition to plows, most runways, major taxiways and aprons are heated to assist the snow removal process.

User currently offlineRamerinianAir From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 1486 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 8396 times:

I'm not sure about this but I think I saw trucks de-icing the taxiways at LGA. If it wasn't de-icing fluid, it was something cause they were dousing the taxiways and tarmacs. Also, I've never seen bigger plows than those at and airport.
SR



W N = my Worst Nightmare!!!!!
User currently offlineEilennaei From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 8318 times:

I just wanted to add that there are times and places where removing all or some of the snow is unnecessary. After all, the snow in itself is not the main issue, but the deterioration of the friction coefficient it may cause. Snow is strange material in that its composition is in flux from the crystalline to ice, and later possibly water. At low temps snow stays powdery even under the pressure of the tyres, and may even act as sand would. At higher temps -- in the range typically seen in much of the world -- snow melts into water under the pressure and creates a small bed of water that floats the plane, causing all the trouble. The careful money-conscious runway keeper will determine the need first with special equipment, then call in the cleaning people. The chemical treatment especially is not cheap.
There is at least one jet a/c that was specifically designed for operating also from snow and ice, the Antonov AN-72/74.

regards
Eilennaei


User currently offlineBoeing7E7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 8266 times:

The prefered method is having a drainage system in place to handle glycol laydown. It's expensive, but airports in heavy snow layden areas have been spending money to make this possible, and I mean a lot of money. The snow falls, melts and runs into the drains easing the clearling process. In a blowing snow senario, it's all about keeping up. A pain in the ass in most cases. The only real problem airports run into these days is too little equipment and not enough space to put the piles of snow. If one of the two is not possible, then you run into a serious problem.

User currently offlineEilennaei From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 8222 times:

You mean glycol is on the runway? (Somewhere in the U.S)? What's is doing there? It should stay within the designated de-icing area that is protected from spillovers by drainage.

Here a plan of a winter-compatible airport. Pls make note of the designated (eco-safe) de-icing area. I'm afraid I can't explain exhaustively where the nation got the money for this.

http://www.ilmailulaitos.fi/ais/aipcharts/ad/efhk/hkad.pdf

regards
Eilennaei


User currently offlineJouy31 From France, joined May 2003, 447 posts, RR: 10
Reply 18, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 8198 times:

I would not compare CDG to ZRH, MUC, FRA or VIE regarding the way they manage snow (flakes or storms  Wink/being sarcastic ). I would rather compare CDG to LHR in terms of weather.

User currently offlineBoeing7E7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 8170 times:

Quoting Eilennaei (reply 17):
You mean glycol is on the runway? (Somewhere in the U.S)? What's is doing there? It should stay within the designated de-icing area that is protected from spillovers by drainage


Yes, in some, but not many cases. A special drainage system is installed along the runway which collects and separates the glycol from water run-off before the runoff goes into the sewer system. Airline ramp areas have a similar system for oil/water separation. It's extremely expensive, but it's use is expanding, and required in new airport ramp construction projects as environmental remediation.


User currently offlineEilennaei From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 8021 times:

I understand, but the writer above seems to have conceptualised that draining of the excess a/c deicing fluid (glycol) is an essential part of the *runway* winter clearing process: "The snow falls, melts and runs into the drains easing the clearling process." What do you make of this, true or false?

A link to the federal (?) requirements of the drainage would be handy. Over here at least the new HEL runway has internal "gutters" (see picture of the construction in the linked document below). Because of the frost heave, all runways have to be built tough in any case, making them A380+ -compatible in the process. (Surface grading over 100, a typical major European runway is 60-80). I don't know how many kids go without shoes because of all this.

At HEL the drainage elsewhere will be directed to the municipal sewage treatment facility along with the rainwater, just like most city streets in general.

I found this:
http://www.ilmailulaitos.fi/files/fc...itoksen_ymparistoraportti_2001.pdf
The environmental repor is in Finnish only, but there are statistics on the different chemicals used for runway treatment.
On p. 17 they claim: "winter cleaning equipment and procedures developed in Finland are seeing use in for instance the main airports of Oslo and Stockholm, in Toronto and Calgary in Canada, and in one of the busiest airports of the world, the Chigago O'Hare airport." (Misspelled in the original).

regards
Eilennaei

[Edited 2005-03-03 13:22:45]

User currently offlineOpsGuy From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 57 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 7979 times:

Sodium Formate which is used on runways can caused as much as $2000 a bag. At such a high cost, airports tend to use the chemicals sparingly.


Is this the Delta House?
User currently offlineBoeing7E7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 7888 times:

Quoting Eilennaei (reply 20):
link to the federal (?) requirements of the drainage would be handy.



http://www.faa.gov/arp/150acs.cfm?ARPnav=acs

It's in one of the 5320's on drainage.

[Edited 2005-03-03 13:40:28]

User currently offlineMartinairYYZ From Canada, joined Nov 2003, 1209 posts, RR: 7
Reply 23, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 7810 times:

How do Airports Handle Snow??


Everyone outside USA handles much better that the United Scaredycats of America airports do  Silly  Silly  Silly They're scare when 2 mm of snowfall, "Oh, look, a snowflake! AHHHH! Alert, Alert! Shutdown The SYSTEMS!!!!!
Here I have seen everything open even during the heaviest of snowfalls. Snowploughs working around the clock up and down the runways non stop with others shoveling the snow into the baskets of the lifts which put the snow into trucks that are constantly driving back and forth.... We're not scared,,,, we're aware!



Chelsea Football Club supporter.
User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 6039 posts, RR: 14
Reply 24, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 7722 times:

Martin --

Your sarcasm is noted, but did you even see a plane takeoff or land while they had all those plows constantly running up and down the runways and taxiways?



Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
25 YYZ757FAN : Here at YYZ,Toronto Pearson International, they use teams of sweepers,plows and snow blowers to keep the runways and taxi ways clear.Most of the plows
26 CosmicCruiser : I wasn't going to reply until I read MartinairYYz. That's absurd and I can give you first hand experiences to prove it. CDG being the best example of
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