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Tomorrow’s Snow Tackled Today

Snow Removal involves around the year work

There’s an AC for that!

Some observations for Snow Preparation


An AVIATIONPRO article highlighted the winter snow removal off season program for Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport (AMA) in Amarillo, Texas. About 19” of snow is deposited on the North Texas airfield plus their wind rose is heavily impacted by high, shifting turbulence. Located in the panhandle area of Texas, Amarillo sees about 19 inches of snow annually and also contends with high winds.

In the article, Tyler Hurst, Deputy Director of aviation for AMA, reviewed his airport’s plans, which not surprisingly, sounds like a good paraphrasing of the FAA’s Snow and Ice Control Plan (SICP) template plus heavy reliance on Airport Field Condition Assessments and Winter Operations Safety AC No: 150/5200-30D.

Here are a few of his point with general applicability:

  • “We had problems with mechanical equipment and sustainability. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn’t, and it was really difficult to source parts,” he said. “They had reached the end of life and their value in terms of how they mechanically removed snow, ice and water was deteriorated.”
  • Hurst said the airport hasn’t needed to use the snow blowers yet, but the new brooms are a substantial improvement compared to the old equipment.“The brooms, being able to travel at roughly 50 miles per hour to get the contaminants off the runway or taxiways has definitely improved,” he said. “The old brooms, the broom implements, turned at such a low RPM and were so slow going that sometimes it kind of made it worse.”
  • Hurst said the airport completed upgrades to the fire suppression system in its snow removal equipment storage facility by upgrading suppression heads in 2018. Now the airport is working with RS&H on design to upgrade the roof of the facility and lighting upgrades. He said the airport wants to go to the FAA in 2018 with 100 percent full design of the project to request funding so AMA can go out to bid.
  • Hurst said the airport discovered it also needs a bigger footprint inside the building to store equipment and cost-effective ways to accomplish the goal. He said they’re designing a lean-to type structure to provide more covered parking spaces directly outside of the facility, which would increase capacity.
  • Hurst said prior coordination with your local FAA program manager to communicate your needs of the facility upfront is very helpful when starting to upgrade snow removal facilities.
  • He said it’s also imperative to get staff involved with upgrading snow removal facilities and equipment to find out their needs from an operator standpoint because they’re doing the work.“A lot of times I think everyone is just concerned with primarily about the regulatory standpoint and that’s important for compliance, but at the end of the day, if you have the equipment and resources needed for the staff to accurately complete their job, I think that’s one of the most satisfying things that I can see,” Hurst said.

Here is a useful table of the snow removal strategies, equipment manufacturers and types of equipment—













As noted here many times, the FAA is transitioning from “ENFORCEMENT” to “Compliance” (cooperation), application of the kindler/gentler approach to airports is moving more slowly (perhaps because the predicate, SMS, is not yet required of Part 139s). The failure of Cleveland Hopkins International to meet the FAA’s snow removal standards resulted in the proposing of a record-breaking civil penalty.











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