The Battle Against Winter Weather

As soon as winter weather is forecast for our region, the HIA switch board lights up with hundreds of people calling to ask:  “Will the airport stay open if it’s snowing?” The answer is simple:  YES!!!  While all flight delay and cancellation decisions are made by the airlines, HIA staff will keep the airport complex open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.

Even before any winter weather hits, about 50 men and women spring into action to prepare more than $5 million in equipment for the challenge of keeping 35 plus combined miles of runway, taxiways, apron and roadways safe and operational.

Based on the temperature and amount of moisture in the air, planes need to be deiced for safety. There are 2 parts to this process. The first is the application of  Type 2 propylene glycol or the orange deicer which removes any ice currently on the plane. The second is the application of Type 4 propylene glycol or the green deicer, which keeps ice from building up on the plane.

No Salt here!
Unlike PennDOT which spreads road salts and ciders on roadways, road salt damages aircraft.  As a result, liquid potassium acetate is used on runways and taxiways as it is more environmentally friendly and less corrosive.  The down side to potassium acetate is its cost.  One gallon can cost as much as $4.50.  At HIA, the staff needs about  4,000 gallons to treat the runway and taxiway system each time.

Numerous pieces of equipment are used to clear the runway and ramp areas of the airport.
Click here to watch a video about HIA’s snow broom.