January 21 2013
It is essential that aircraft have enough braking action to allow them to stop safely on a runway when moving at speed. A build up of snow or ice on a runway can dramatically reduce the available friction required for braking, thus making it unsafe for aircraft. Taxiways may also be withdrawn from service for this reason.
Dublin Airport has about 600 acres of apron, taxi-way and runway to keep clear of snow and ice and in bad weather we have a team of people working constantly to keep the airport operating. Every inch of snow on the airfield equates to about 15,000 tonnes of snow that has to be cleared. How do you clear the runway, taxiways and aprons of snow?
We have a wide variety of vehicles that blow, sweep and brush the snow. The vehicles run in a fan formation up and down the runway to push snow to the sides of the runway. This work continues until the runway is completely clear of snow and the runway is then de-iced.
The runway is cleared first, followed by the taxi-ways, aircraft parking stands and other apron areas. We have 109 aircraft parking stands at Dublin Airport, each of which is about the size of a football pitch.
Why don’t you just keep going through the snow?
Safety is Dublin Airport’s first priority at all times and we only ever suspend operations for safety reasons. As soon as it is deemed unsafe for an aircraft to land or take off, we have to suspend flight operations. We then work to clear the snow as soon as possible but we only ever resume flight operations when it is safe to do so.
We are acutely aware of passengers’ frustration, particularly at this time of year, but we have to put their safety first at all times. Can’t you just grit the runway?
The type of grit used on roads would damage an aircraft so we use potassium acetate. We regularly spray the runway and apron areas in advance of and during cold weather to prevent a build up of ice and snow. What do you use to de-ice the planes?
The de-icing of aircraft is the responsibility of individual airlines not the airport authority. Airlines use de-icing fluid which is mixed with water and sprayed on the aircraft from a tanker with a cherry picker crane to allow access to the entire aircraft. Where can I get the latest information on the status of the operation at Dublin Airport?
We are posting regular updates on the Dublin Airport website and you can also follow Dublin Airport on Twitter. How can I contact my airline?
Contact details for airlines operating at Dublin Airport are at available here.
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