aaden
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Why Is DIA Closed?

Fri Dec 22, 2006 5:14 pm

This may seem like a stupid question but why did they close DIA? I know because it was snowing, but that shouldn't prevent planes from takeing off and landing should it? Could the planes not just use their computers to land?
 
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BreninTW
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Fri Dec 22, 2006 5:37 pm

I think it boils down to dangerous levels of snow and ice on the runways. The computers might be able to get the plane down, but if it lands on ice, there's no way you're going to be able to stop it before wholesale carnage ensues.

I remember way back when, in '81, we had snow in JNB -- since there's no snow-removal equipment at the airport, despite the fact that we had less than an inch of the fluffy white stuff, the airport had to be closed for a while.
 
RyDawg82
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Fri Dec 22, 2006 7:04 pm


Current photo from 9news.com of KDEN

That's not 3 inches of fluffy stuff either, nor is it your driveway...We're talking 5 12,000 x 150 foot runways a 1 16,000 x 200 foot. While the weather is better, it takes time to clean the runways and taxiways.

Ryan
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Boeing Nut
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Sat Dec 23, 2006 6:34 am

Quoting Brenintw (Reply 1):
I think it boils down to dangerous levels of snow and ice on the runways. The computers might be able to get the plane down, but if it lands on ice, there's no way you're going to be able to stop it before wholesale carnage ensues.

   There is also the major issue of FOD (Foreign Object Debris) intake into the engines.

Nice to see members taking the - the only dumb question is the one that isn't asked - road.   

[Edited 2006-12-22 22:36:58]
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SuseJ772
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Sat Dec 23, 2006 8:12 am

I think the better question is why is it taking so long to reopen? This isn't like a fluke snow storm in Atlanta. This is Denver for pete's sake. I can understand closing the airport during heavy winds and snow. But they have, what six, runways, in all 4 main directions. Doesn't anybody think it is a little odd that Denver of all places couldn't get one of these open and keep it open?
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OPNLguy
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Sat Dec 23, 2006 8:46 am

In addition to the braking action considerations, airline aircraft also have limits on the depth of wet snow, dry snow, and slush they can operate in, as per the aircraft flight manual (AFM), and you gotta comply with AFM limitations.

For example, let's say an aircraft has a takeoff limit of 1" of wet snow. If the snow is coming down at a rate of 2" per hour, that means after a runway has been plowed, it'll be at the max depth limit for wet snow in about 30 minutes. OK, so they go plow again, and the cycle repeats itself. Now, try and synchronize the aircraft de-icing with when the runway will actually be available for use (hopefully before the de-icing holdover time expires), and I think you begin to see how finely-tuned things have to be, and how easily that particular apple cart can be upset, especially with multiple aircraft and multiple runways, and/or if the snowfall rate increases. Any way you slice it, it's a MESS...
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pilotpip
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:14 am

Quoting SuseJ772 (Reply 4):
I think the better question is why is it taking so long to reopen? This isn't like a fluke snow storm in Atlanta. This is Denver for pete's sake. I can understand closing the airport during heavy winds and snow. But they have, what six, runways, in all 4 main directions. Doesn't anybody think it is a little odd that Denver of all places couldn't get one of these open and keep it open?

The winds are very high right now as well. My friend had snow drifts over 8 feet tall in his driveway. They were having a hard time keeping the runways clean.

Another consideration is where do you put all this snow? You not only have to clear the runways, you have to clean the taxiways, and ramps. Usually you have to take it off site. There are only so many dump trucks in the area. There's also the fact that the entire city is more or less shut down. I'm sure that they aren't working at full staff.

Snow often makes the glideslope of an ILS unusable. The signal is reflected at the ground from it's antenna. Snow accumulations will knock it out of comission. Localizer still works but you don't have the verticle guidance so an aircraft's autoland system won't work. Many aircraft don't have autoland to begin with.
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Curmudgeon
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:44 am

Also remember that against that kind of snow fall rate the plows can't keep up...also when aircraft taxi on snow it gets compressed into ice tracks, which are then harder to remove. These can quickly build up on the runways and taxiways and reduce otherwise fair braking action to poor or nil.

Finally, airports often open before the access roads and interstates do, so after the departing pax backlog is cleared it gets replaced with arriving pax who can't get ground transportation.
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aaden
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Sat Dec 23, 2006 12:19 pm

thanx guys


aaden
 
Goldenshield
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Sat Dec 23, 2006 9:13 pm

Quoting Aaden (Thread starter):
Could the planes not just use their computers to land?

There are two very complex computers that operate the aircraft, and if those computers compute that it is not safe to land, they won't make the plane do it. These computers are called 'pilots.'
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hangarrat
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Sun Dec 24, 2006 12:17 am

Quoting SuseJ772 (Reply 4):
This isn't like a fluke snow storm in Atlanta. This is Denver for pete's sake.

Parts of the Denver area had up to three feet of snow. That's up to your belt. I can speak from experience that it's no fun to deal with. On Presidents' Day weekend in 2002, we had a similar storm here in the northeast that shut things down for days.

As I recall, we had plenty of warning, it also was not a high travel period, and the major airports are all near the coast, so they received less snow, but inland where I lived at the time, it was a mess. It took the city three days to clear the streets and the schools were closed for a week.

I learned that in three feet of snow, a Ford Explorer might as well be a Geo Metro.
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113312
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Sun Dec 24, 2006 9:35 am

I was there. Any consideration of keeping the place in operation would have been crazy and irresponsible. The snow was accumulating much faster than it could be removed from the ramps, taxiways, runways, and of course, the aircraft.

Visibility at 8am on Wednesday was 1/4 to 1/8th of a mile with Heavy Snow and the winds were blowing from the North to Northwest at 22-40 knots. This is a blizzard by any definition.

One of the big problems at DIA that is different from other airports is that this place is really spread out. As a result, there is more ramp space, and taxiway surfaces than other large airports with equal numbers of gates, flights and runways. A great effort was expended, along with $$$$, to attempt to keep the surfaces cleared and one to two runways operational. Several aircraft actually departed their gates and attempted deicing/anti-icing. However, the rate of snowfall, temperature, wind and FAA mandated rules made it nearly impossible to make a legal and safe takeoff.

Whiteout conditions prevailed on the airport surfaces obscuring all markings making the movement of planes and other vehicles very dangerous. Of course, it was also very slippery. Several planes attempted to pushback off of their gates only to give up when the pushback tugs were spinning their wheels.

After two hours of getting deiced and taxiing all over the airport, my crew and I cancelled our flight with the concurrence of the Company.

Why did it take so long to reopen after the snow stopped? The answer again is related to the amount of snow and the extensive area of ramp, taxiways, and runway to be cleared. Even to open a single runway involves more show removal than most other airports.

Our crew was the very first aircraft to takeoff at 11:53 am on Friday and I want to express our appreciation to all of the ground crews who worked so hard to make that possible. The runway and few taxiways that were then open were clean, dry and safe.
 
SuseJ772
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Sun Dec 24, 2006 10:12 am

Quoting 113312 (Reply 11):
I was there. Any consideration of keeping the place in operation would have been crazy and irresponsible. The snow was accumulating much faster than it could be removed from the ramps, taxiways, runways, and of course, the aircraft.

Yeah I can totally understand that when it was snowing. But I still think it was a bit odd how slow the airport re-opened (and maybe more accurately put, reopened and returned to capacity).

Quoting 113312 (Reply 11):
Why did it take so long to reopen after the snow stopped? The answer again is related to the amount of snow and the extensive area of ramp, taxiways, and runway to be cleared. Even to open a single runway involves more show removal than most other airports.

Yeah but still. This wasn't like this was the first time Denver has seen a huge snow storm. I just figured Airport Management would have a better plan so the whole thing didn't just shut down for as long as it did. It isn't like someone just woke up and realized today that, ohh crap, I never realized this but we are quite vulnerable for a snow storm, and on top of that, it takes a long time to remove all this snow. I would assume DIA would ahve more snow removal equipment than any other airport as well, and they sure as heck have plenty of room to put the plowed snow.

I hope this isn't taken as hostile, as that is not my intent at all. Just curious for the most part. Something just didn't seem to add up.
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ATCme
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Sun Dec 24, 2006 10:40 am

Quoting SuseJ772 (Reply 12):
I hope this isn't taken as hostile, as that is not my intent at all. Just curious for the most part. Something just didn't seem to add up.

I agree, it doesn't add up. Take into consideration that this kind of snowstorm is rare on the front range, about once every 3 years or so, so it isn't always like this. Thats pry their main consideration.

ATCme santahat 
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777den
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RE: Why Is DIA Closed?

Sun Dec 24, 2006 11:39 am

Reports I read said that there were snow drifts over 12 ft tall on some of the runways and taxiways.
One of the problems in Denver is on average DEN get relatively small amounts of snow and what snow it gets is usually followed by dry and warmer days . this storm was one of the 10 worst on record in terms of total snowfall and the high winds that blow snow all across tha plains didn't help.

One big problem at DEN is it is surrounded by miles of flat farm land - good for noise abatement but a huge reservoir of snow to drift from.

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