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ACAA Employees Win Prestigious Balchen/Post, Two Other Awards at International Aviation Snow Symposium


  • Pittsburgh International Airport Snow Removal Operation Recognized for Outstanding Achievement for 2009-10 season

PITTSBURGH, PA (April 29, 2010) – Allegheny County Airport Authority employees at Pittsburgh International Airport were named the winner of the 2009-2010 Balchen/Post Award for Outstanding Achievement in Airport Snow and Ice Control. Additionally, the airport won the Idea Corner and Legacy awards, giving Pittsburgh International Airport a “clean sweep” at the awards presentation, Wednesday, April 28 in Buffalo, New York. This is the 34th consecutive year the Balchen/Post has been presented; its purpose is two-fold: to promote better snow and ice control, and to recognize those individuals responsible for outstanding performance.

It is the fifth time Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) has received the Balchen/Post Award, sponsored by the Northeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives and is presented each year at the International Aviation Snow Symposium. The PIT Snow Removal team won in 1979, 1984, 1985, and 1994. Additionally, it has received Honorable Mention six times. Airports from the United States and Canada compete for the prize.

“These employees deserve this commendation. In this era of FAA Tarmac Delay Rules, the honor represents one of the many ways that Pittsburgh International Airport addresses travelers’ needs. With an Airport Arrival Rate of 80, PIT is superior to most airports in operating efficiencies, with snow removal being an important factor,” said Glenn R. Mahone, chairman, Allegheny County airport Authority.

“This award is more than an honor; it is a testimony of the reliability and dependability of Pittsburgh International Airport to stay open and stay safe in all type of weather conditions, improving the on-time rates for airlines and enhancing customer service,” said Bradley D. Penrod, CEO and Executive Director of the Allegheny County Airport Authority. “We faced a very challenging winter season with a record-breaking snowfall, and the Snow Removal Team did an outstanding job. Pittsburgh International Airport is among the best in the world at snow removal.”

“The historic snowstorm experienced in February tested our metal. Crews worked around the clock during that storm and many others keeping the runways and taxiways safe for our passengers,” said Tom Long, Airport Authority Director of Maintenance.
“Teamwork, communications and airfield awareness is critical to reducing the time it takes to clear snow, to maximize the availability of runways and to increase the safety factor of airfield operations. The FAA and the airlines are essential partners to our success.” said Nino Sapone, Airport Authority Director of Airfield Operations.

The employees who participate in the snow removal process at Pittsburgh International Airport include Allegheny County Airport Authority employees from Operations, Field Maintenance, Facility Maintenance, the airlines, and the FAA Air Traffic Control Tower.

A total of 77 inches of snow fell at Pittsburgh International Airport during the 2009-10 (season ending March 21, 2010). That is 36 inches above average. The heaviest snowfall occurred on Feb. 5-6 when 21 inches of snow fell on the airport in a 22-hour span. Additionally, there 19 were snow storms with more than two inches of snow and four ice storms during the season.

Pittsburgh International Airport was also recognized with the Idea Corner Award for its “Broomvention” – a device that uses compressed air to assist those employees who are replacing worn bristles on snow brooms. This new piece of equipment, which was invented by Airport Authority heavy equipment mechanics, saves time, potential injury and allows heavy equipment operators to return to the airfield sooner to complete the snow removal process.

The team from PIT also won the Snow Symposium’s Legacy Award for having the oldest piece of equipment still operating in the snow removal process. The PIT Snow Team won for still using its 1978 Snowblast Snow Blower, which clears runways of large, heavy snowdrifts.



Apr 28, 2010