man entering plane on a snowy ramp

May 3, 2018

Laurence G. Hanscom Field (BED), in Bedford, MA, was recently recognized for its outstanding efforts in dealing with winter weather.

The airport won the 2017-18 Balchen/Post Award in the large general aviation (GA) category (more than 50,000 operations annually). This is the third time in the last four years Hanscom has won this award. New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport (TEB), and Willow Run Airport (YIP) in Ypsilanti, MI, received honorable mentions in the GA airport category.

Presented April 16 at the International Aviation Snow Symposium in Buffalo, NY, the Balchen/Post Awards recognize the successful efforts of airport snow crews for their dedication in maintaining their airports in safe and operational status. The awards are sponsored by the Northeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives.

“Winter places extreme demands on airport snow teams, which commit themselves to doing whatever it takes to keep their airports open and operating safely and efficiently,” said Alex Gertsen, NBAA’s director of airports and ground infrastructure. “These efforts demand intense planning, preparation, training and, above all, perseverance.”

Hanscom is New England’s largest general aviation airport. The procedures airport management follows in monitoring airport conditions during the winter include measuring runway surface friction using the FAA’s Runway Condition Assessment Matrix. The airport also utilizes Bowmonk brake-testing equipment for trending.

Training snow removal personnel also is critical to Hanscom’s success in keeping the airport open. The airport’s staff takes part in initial-hire training, on-the-job training, annual recurrent snow-operations training and cross training in equipment. All equipment operators must complete an initial check ride in each type of equipment.

Airport management, field maintenance and contract fleet maintenance mechanics also collaborate on pre‐season equipment status checks to ensure that equipment is prepared for the winter season, and that sufficient inventory is on hand to minimize equipment downtime. All snow-related equipment must be 100 percent operational by Oct. 15. Additionally, all equipment is inspected by the maintenance foreperson and operators, and is field tested on or before this date to ensure operational readiness.

“We believe the key to our success is communication,” said Hanscom Field Director Sharon Williams. “We have a diverse group of talent, including seasoned equipment operators and innovative mechanics, as well as a driven, technology savvy operations staff that provides the best possible service for our customers. We set the bar high for ourselves and focus on continually improving our airport after every storm.”