AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, AND FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

How to Keep Snow and Ice Off Airport Runways?

It is important for airports to keep runways and taxiways clear of any debris or obstacles to maintain the safety of aircraft and passengers during taxi, takeoff, and landing operations. This becomes especially important during the wintertime, when snow and ice accumulate on outdoor surfaces in cold environments, and airport runways generally cannot be heated using built-in heating equipment with today’s technology. This means that personnel are challenged to take additional measures during harsh weather such as storms and heavy snowfall. In such conditions, it becomes vital for the runways and taxiways to be cleared of snow and ice. To learn more about how airports keep their runways aircraft-ready, keep on reading.

A majority of airports around the world use conventional de-icing methods such as large plows, blowers, and other snow machines that can clear runways and taxiways. This is a generally simple operation, and snow can usually be cleared quickly before it turns to ice, which takes a great deal of time to melt on its own. Another tactic involves the use of deicing chemicals to keep ice from bonding to the surface of the ground. Often made of chemicals such as potassium Chlorate or Urea, this substance is applied before ice forms on the runway or once the snow has been completely cleared.

Many airports around the world have been experimenting with newer technologies developed to prevent icy runway conditions. For example, temperature sensors that have been designed to integrate into the runway surface are increasingly common, and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has issued thorough guidance detailing their installation and operation. These sensors predict ice formation on a runway surface, and some airports have built-in automated glycol dispensing systems along the runway as a preventative measure. However, since glycol is poisonous to animals and creates a slippery runway surface, snow blowers are often used instead.

Snow blowers and plows require fuel and manpower, and clearing an average airport runway takes around 5 to 10 heavy-duty machines. In addition to these existing costs, there is a significant cost associated with the use of de-icing chemicals. It takes several thousand gallons of liquid chemicals that cost between $7 to $10 per gallon to cover the large surface area of a runway. Overall, it takes thousands of dollars to keep a runway and taxiway clear of ice and snow during storms and in freezing temperatures.

Just like cars trying to stop on ice or snow, aircraft moving at 150 knots on an icy surface can hydroplane or aquaplane, which can cause the vehicle to overshoot the runway or drift off course sideways. Therefore, inspectors patrol in harsh weather to detect ice formation on the runway before it becomes a serious problem. Air traffic control does the same, letting pilots know when it is safe to land and when to divert from landing in dangerous conditions.

In order to keep runways safe and clear during storms and in freezing temperatures, proper deicing equipment is necessary. To source top-notch deicing equipment for aircraft and airport runaways, you can turn to Aviation 3Sixty, where we are committed to providing our customers with only the best products and services. As such, we source countless parts from trusted global manufacturers that we have previously vetted and placed on our Approved Vendor List (AVL). More than that, many parts undergo extensive inspection and document verification to ensure their fit, form, and function for your benefit. Start the procurement process by browsing through our expansive inventory, and when you discover pieces of deicing equipment that you need for your operations, be sure to let us know by filling out an RFQ form. With the information in your submission, an account manager will craft a customized quote that suits your needs and restrictions alike. We are available at any time to assist you through procurement, so do not hesitate to reach out.


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