ACAA Recognizes Success of Snow Removal Program at PIT
October 30, 2009
ALLEGHENY COUNTY AIRPORT AUTHORITY RECOGNIZES SUCCESS OF SNOW REMOVAL PROGRAM AT PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
PITTSBURGH, PA (October 30, 2009) – The Allegheny County Airport Authority today recognized employees and officially kicked off the 2009-2010 Snow Removal Season at Pittsburgh International Airport today. A special recognition event was held at 10 am, Friday, October 30, 2009, at the Snow Removal Equipment Facility, 300 Cargo Road, Coraopolis, PA 15108.
This event featured a recognition event celebrating the great success of the 2008-2009 Snow Removal Season and served as a kick off to the 2009-2010 Snow Season.
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 successful snow removal season is determined by exercising proper safety measures, excellent communications and teamwork, and minimizing the impact to regular air operations due to weather and snow removal. Employees of the Airport Authority, aircraft operators and the FAA control tower are consistent high performers in snow removal and airfield safety year after year at Pittsburgh International Airport,” said Glenn R. Mahone, Chairman, Allegheny County Airport Authority.
“Pittsburgh International and Allegheny County Airports are well prepared for snow. The Airport Authority is one of the best in the world at snow removal. Air traffic may be impacted by heavy snowfall, but Pittsburgh International Airport nearly ever closes due to snow,” said Bradley D. Penrod, Executive Director/ CEO, Allegheny county Airport Authority.
“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. I am proud to be a part of this program that makes these characteristics a priority,” said Felix Sanchez, Director FAA PIT Air Traffic Control Tower.
The airport’s efforts have received international attention. Pittsburgh International Airport is a four-time winner and recognized six times in the honorable mention category for the International Balchen/Post award for excellence in the performance of airport snow and ice control.
When heavy snow is expected, the Snow Control Center is activated. The Airport Snow and Ice Committee includes the Airport Operations Staff, Airline flight operations departments, FAA Air Traffic Control Tower, the National Weather Service and other concerned parties deemed necessary. The snow and ice control committee conducts pre- and post-seasonal planning meetings, operates the snow control center and implements a written plan. The SCC main functions are managing snow clearing operations, serving as the prime source of field condition reporting and informing ATC, air carriers of runway closures and openings.
Runway friction assessments are conducted when contaminants are present, following snow clearing, anti-icing, and de-icing operations. These numerical values can show the trend of a runway as to the increasing or decreasing friction.
The affected parties are informed about the quantities of snow expected and the possible consequences. The group decides what actions should be taken.
During the colder half of the year (roughly November through March), Pittsburgh International Airport has about 11 seasonally hired snow removal staff to operate snow removal equipment. Together with permanent staff, they form a team of more than 100 people who provide snow removal services. Special routes are planned for sweeping teams, which clear each runway at intervals of 35 to 45 minutes. The sweeping teams are directed via radio from the air traffic control tower.
Each team consists of eight PSB (plowing, sweeping and blowing) machines that move side by side. The PSB machines are followed by a snow thrower. As needed, a chemical truck is next, spraying anti-skid agent on the runways. On their heels is a crew of electricians who ensure all runway lighting is intact and if not, they quickly repair lighting.
When snow removal is completed on each runway, the surface is tested by a friction vehicle, which measures friction value. The airport announces the friction value, and then it is each pilot who decides whether this value is sufficient for a landing. The friction value determines how often a runway must be plowed and treated with anti-skid agent.
In fall 2008, the Airport Authority finished construction on the Snow Removal Equipment (SRE) Storage Building on Cargo Road, Coraopolis, PA. The 488-feet by 100-feet building has 29 parking spaces for snow removal equipment. The building purpose is to protect and extend the life of the unique and expensive snow removal equipment at Pittsburgh International Airport. One feature of this facility is the impressive truck wash bay. Snow removal vehicles are driven over a high pressure spray system that will loosen and clear frozen snow and snow removal chemicals from the under carriage of the trucks.
“The frozen snow and runway chemicals have done some significant damage to this equipment over time,” said Penrod. “This process will significantly extend the life of the equipment and will protect the Airport Authority’s investment.”
After going through the wash and rinse pressure sprays, the equipment will be parked in one of the 21-feet by 59-feet parking spaces in the adjoining garage. The facility will provide costs savings by reducing vehicle idling time. Typically, this type of equipment is extremely difficult to start when it is stored outside.
- Snow removal time for each runway: 30-35 minutes.
- The Snow Blower machines can move 3,000 tons per hour.
- Our runway system is like maintaining a two lane highway from Pittsburgh to Cleveland.