Month: January 2021

Preparation Tools for Snow and Ice Control at Your Airport

Many of us have already been impacted by the arrival of snow and ice this winter season. Fortunately, our nation’s airport operators have been preparing for this wintery mix long before the first snowflake arrived. These airport operation professionals understand the vital role our Commercial and General Aviation airports play in the country’s transportation system and the importance of keeping them open and in safe operating conditions during every season.

HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS

Airport operators have many tools to assist with mitigating hazards created by winter weather. Perhaps the most important being an up-to-date Snow and Ice Control Plan (SICP). A comprehensive SICP includes a detailed game plan to address hazardous pavement conditions that may develop from any winter weather. This would include something as important as ensuring reliable communications between all entities involved in the airport operation. Snow crews, who are responsible for the airfield safety, must be able to coordinate airfield maintenance operations with Air Traffic Control, individual aircraft, and airport tenants. They share crucial information regarding the pavement conditions including the presence of contaminants such as snow, ice, or slush, all of which have the potential to negatively impact aircraft. Equally as important, they coordinate personnel shifts to ensure their staff is rested and able to fulfill their duties.

ICE COMMITTEE

The basis of any SICP starts with identifying a Champion of Winter Ops Safety, usually the Airport Manager or Director of Operations. It is the Champion’s job to gather support and build a guiding coalition also known as a Snow and Ice Control Committee. Preferably, this committee is made up of individuals working in varying roles throughout the airport. This ensures proper preseason planning has addressed every area of the airport and every individual operation focused on improving airfield safety and communications. Establishing this stakeholder group early helps build a solid communication base and creates a culture where communication and ongoing operational evaluations meet the needs of airport users.

Some considerations for airport managers before the snow season should include:

  • Establishing a Snow Control Center (SCC) for snow and ice control activities. This can be as simple as the cab of the operator’s snowplow, a desk in the manager’s office or Fixed-Base Operator, or a special office dedicated to snow operations. The priority is that there is a known official command center that is responsible for clearing the Airport Operations Area, disseminating information related to current field conditions, issuing Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), and if necessary, closing runways or areas on the airport unsafe for aircraft operations.
  • Establish airport snow clearing priority areas. This identifies areas that are essential to the safe operation of the airfield. Priority 1 areas include the primary runway, associated parallel taxiways and route to the apron, essential apron area, and emergency staging and access points. Less essential areas, known as Priority 2, can be prioritized and cleared as operators regain control of the situation. These include crosswind runways, supporting taxiways, other airport facilities areas, and additional aircraft parking areas. Priority 3 areas are all other surfaces in the Airport Operations Area, including all access and perimeter security roads. Airport Managers should identify areas that tenants are responsible for and request SICP’s from individual tenants at the airport.
  • Staffing for snow operations. Airport managers should (and if operating a certificated airport are required under Section 139.303 to), “Equip personnel with sufficient resources needed to comply with the requirements of the SICP,” and “Provide sufficient and qualified personnel to comply with the airport’s SICP.” Human factors can play a huge role in operational safety during snow operations. Realistically the snow season can last more than half of the calendar year with storms that can last for several days with little if any downtime. Managers should consider things like personnel training, snow ops crews (A crew vs. B crew), shift lengths including adequate rest periods, food and hydration, and resting areas on site.
  • Equipment Selection & Storage. The amount and size of Snow Removal Equipment (SRE) required to clear the airport is based on calculations laid out in FAA Advisory Circular 150/5220-20, Airport Snow and Ice Control Equipment. The calculations provide guidance on the types and size of equipment needed to clear the Priority 1 areas in a specified time period based on the average annual snowfall, type of airport and annual operations. In addition to the type and size of equipment needed to keep the airport operational, the FAA recommends housing the equipment in a building capable of maintaining 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help prolong the useful life of the equipment and to enable more rapid response to operational needs. The availability of a storage equipment building also ensures operators can inspect the equipment before and after use as well as make repairs and conduct routine maintenance throughout the snow season.

With the snow season upon us, airports across the county will be implementing their thoughtfully crafted SICP with the understanding that it may need to be evaluated and adjusted throughout the season.

If you plan to travel at any point during this winter season, pause for a moment to observe and appreciate the many hours of planning that occurs before a single flake flies that keeps your airport open and safe during winter operations.

Further detailed information and links to supporting documents where you can find guidance when developing a Snow and Ice Control Plan (SICP) can be found in FAA Advisory circulars, 150/5200-30, 150 and 150/5220-20.

Employee Spotlight: Kevin Preston

Kevin Preston, CADD Technician and White Mountain Hiker

1.  What drew you to Hoyle, Tanner?
I wanted to work in a smaller company environment than the one I was previously in, allowing more room for professional growth.
2. What’s something invaluable you’ve learned here?
The importance of communication.  I’ve never been the greatest communicator, personally and professionally, but I do try to get better at it all the time.
3. What’s your favorite time of year to work at Hoyle, Tanner?
I can’t say any time of year really stands out specifically over another, but I do enjoy seeing what everyone comes up with for decorations during Christmas.
4. What’s the coolest thing you are working on?
I’m working on a large project for a state agency. I have a soft spot for the larger projects and being able to say I worked on it every time I drive by would be pretty neat.
5. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you so far this week?
I received approval from a mortgagee to begin a search for a new home!
6. How many different states have you lived in?
Only New Hampshire! Although I was born in Massachusetts, oddly enough.
7. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
Shepherd’s pie
8. What kind of pet do you have and how did you choose to name it?
I have a 2-year-old Bernedoodle dog named Jackson. I named him after Mount Jackson in the White Mountains, one of the first 4,000-foot mountains I ever climbed.
9. What is a fun or interesting fact about your hometown?
I grew up in Bow, NH… Nothing fun or interesting comes to mind!
10. What are three things still left on your bucket list
1. Visit England, specifically take a trip to Anfield where Liverpool FC play.
2. See the Northern Lights.
3. Climb Mount Whitney in California, the tallest peak in the lower 48.

11. Name three items you’d take with you to a desert island.
1. A lighter
2. A tarp
3. Fishing equipment (practical enough)

12. What characteristic do you admire most in others?
Empathy
13. How old is the oldest item in your closet?
14 years old?  I moved into my current condo about a year and a half ago, many things disappeared in the move but there is a pair of soccer cleats from high school still kicking (no pun intended…) around in there!
14. Words to live by? Favorite Quote?
“Treat others the way you want to be treated.” It’s simple, but many problems could be alleviated by simply remembering it.
15. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A professional soccer player.
16. If you were to skydive from an airplane what would you think about on the way down?
Which cord is the parachute?