YLW Connection - Winter 2009 - (Page 8)

Winter Maintenance: snow removal 24/7 | BY RON M AN Z W atching those big fluffy flakes float down can leave a deep pit in one’s stomach wondering if the flight you are waiting on will leave or arrive on time. Winter can mean delays or closures at airports and Kelowna International prepares for five or six significant snow events each year. Safety is a key word when it comes to snow removal, whether there is one centimetre or ten. Kelowna has an automatic policy that calls for complete closure if runway friction drops below a 0.25 reading monitored by their TRACR equipment. This Canadian Runway Friction Index indicates how slippery the runway is by using “brake tests” conducted by two airport vehicles operated by Airport Operations Specialists (AOSs). No planes are allowed to land or take off if the CRFI is too low. Visibility is also crucial for snow storms or fog in winter. A one-mile horizontal visibility policy by Transport Canada must be met to allow planes in or out, and vertical visibility is a minimum 251 feet, though some airlines require it be higher than that. At the first sign of snow, Kelowna’s Operations Department responds with their around-the-clock four-person crews of AOSs. Their duties also include Aircraft Rescue Firefighting and first medical responses for any emergencies that arise at the airport. A whole fleet of specialized vehicles is utilized starting with three trucks with plough-sweeper combinations that take about five minutes to travel the full length of the newly extended 8900 foot runway. “The airport focuses on maintaining a minimum 100 foot wide strip down the centre of the runway,” says Airport Operations Manager James Hall. “The runway is actually 200 feet wide, but most airlines can operate with 100 feet to land and take off. We concentrate on that area first and then widen the cleared portion as the weather cooperates, while also focusing on other priority areas including the taxiways and terminal apron.” The clearing equipment also includes a front-end loader with plough attachment; a special tank and spreader truck that holds three tons of urea or fertilizer and 2000 litres of potassium acetate used for de-icing conditions; a large capacity snow blower; and a bobcat tractor with mini-sweeper, blower, and plough attachments that clears hard to manoeuvre areas like those around the five loading bridges. “We use solid urea to melt through snow or ice and mix it with liquid potassium acetate that activates the urea quicker and at a lower temperature,” adds Hall. “The combination is more effective and more environmentally friendly than straight urea.” One of the new challenges this year is dealing with the extra 1600 feet of runway. A 21% increase in asphalt area means more time is needed for clearing. One advantage though is a changed shift schedule that sees AOS’s on site 24 hours a day. “In the past we had no one here overnight, so if it snowed our personnel would get called in around 3 a.m. to begin clearing,” stated Hall. “Now snowfall is monitored day and night and clearing crews get on it immediately. Commercial flights run from 6 a.m. to midnight so the quick actions of our people help ensure there are smiles on everyone from airline personnel to passengers since every effort is made to ensure flights land and depart on time.” n 8 WWW.YLW.AERO http://WWW.YLW.AERO

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of YLW Connection - Winter 2009

YLW Connection - Winter 2009
Airport Services
Customer Survey Shows YLW on Track
Las Vegas - The To-Do List That Never Ends
Winter Maintenance: Snow Removal 24/7
Kelowna's Largest Tim Hortons Lands at YLW
Air Canada - Connecting Kelowna to the World
Air Travel Etiquette
Staying Ahead of the Curve at YLW
Airport Ambassadors Make Dreams Come True
Dream Big
Advisory Committee Helps Chart Flight Plan for Kelowna International
Growing a Creative Okanagan Economy
Pregnancy & Travel
Flying Securely
YLW News
Trivia & Games

YLW Connection - Winter 2009