Dreading the summer heat? How about a nice snow cone? Let’s talk about snow and ice.
Winter operations throughout the country vary from region to region and year to year. From the far reaches of Alaska, above the arctic circle; to the daily cold, warm,weather cadence of the Colorado Plateau in Arizona; the terms Type 4 de-icing and designated snow dump areas are not uncommon. You might be the small municipal airport struggling to keep up with the late season heavy snow dump before sunrise or the large international airport with impaired adjacent waterways and a limited glycol treatment capacity.
In today’s market place of reduced ticket sales, higher fuel prices, and increasing environmental oversight, everyone is looking for a more efficient way to meet the operational requirements. With the requirements set forth by the FAA for Type 4 de-icing applications, many operations managers are struggling with how and when to expand their facilities of recovery, remediation or bio-consumption of ethylene or propylene glycol based de-icing products. Several airports across the nation are implementing biological treatment cells within wetlands as discharge points for de-icing operations. This type of application certainly comes with the need for environmental monitoring to ensure conditions and concentrations are appropriate.In some larger metropolitan areas, the concentrations and volume of glycol allowsindustrial recovery which can support secondary uses of these chemical agents.
As an example of a facility with a great diversity of operational challenges, Fairbanks International Airport in Alaska is one of the most diverse international airports.include maintaining two primary paved runways year-round, a water lane or float plane pond (during summer months – obviously), as well as, a ski strip or packed snow runway for planes operating on skis. This variety of seasonal surfaces requires a very clear and distinct operations plan which is complicated by a large volume of international passenger and cargo planes, in addition to adjacent jurisdictional waters of the US.
My next couple of articles will explore some of the more recent practices and technology of de-icing and anti-icing practices of both the airplanes we fly in, and also the surfaces that we land or drive on. From the designed biological remediation wetland to the segregated storm water runoff systems, we’ll look at how various operations deal with their de-icing by-products. From heated roadways to radiant de-icing tents, the interest in becoming less chemically dependent and more efficient is ever-present in today’s airport operations.
There now, don’t you feel just a few degrees cooler after talking about snow? Enjoy the warm weather while it’s here, because it won’t be long before we are being sprayed or basking in a radiant de-icer. Stay tuned for my next installment.