May 26, 2016

Three popular destinations for business aircraft – Colorado’s Centennial Airport (APA), Virginia’s Manassas Regional Airport (HEF) and Washington, DC’s Dulles International Airport (IAD) – have been recognized for excellence in snow and ice control. These facilities were among the airfields receiving 2016 Balchen/Post Awards, which were presented recently by the Northeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives during the annual International Aviation Snow Symposium.

“During winter operations, snow teams do what 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 preparation, training and perseverance.”

Centennial, Manassas and Dulles were well prepared for the 2015-2016 winter season as result of year-round efforts. Facility managers analyzed snow events at the completion of the previous winter season and focused on making improvements, refining their strategies, maintaining equipment and conducting personnel training as the next winter approached. They also communicated clearly with their users and successfully executed their snow and ice removal plans.

Centennial, the large general aviation (GA) airport award winner, never closed last winter, and Manassas, the large GA airport honorable mention winner, closed just once, even though it experienced three ice storms and a 36-hour, 29-inch snowstorm.

“Planning, preseason practice, and personnel and equipment preparation are key factors in any snow plan. But communication with our users, tenants and the FAA also has been a key element in our success,” said Brian Lewis, director of operations at Centennial.

Jolene Berry, Manassas’ senior operations officer, concurred. She explained that prior to the onset of winter, airport officials brief operators on the snow plan. As a storm approaches, the officials tell affected parties what to expect and how crews will combat that particular storm.

“No two storms are alike, and ice is the worst,” said Berry, who noted that low temperatures degrade ice-melt effectiveness.

For Dulles, the large commercial airport honorable mention winner, “business aviation access… is the bread and butter at this airport,” said Alex Kashani, chairman of the Balchen/Post committee. “Airport snow removal priorities start with runways and taxiways, followed by emergency access roads, and then airline and FBO ramps.”

As is the case at many airports, IAD’s snow-removal efforts are a shared responsibility. FBOs clear their leasehold ramps, but the airport ensures that the taxiways leading to them are clear.

Though nominations are not yet being accepted for the 2016-2017 year, NBAA encourages members to consider nominating airports, or encouraging airports to nominate themselves, for this award next year, as a way to show appreciation of airports working hard during snow storms to keep facilities open and operational.

About the Balchen/Post Award

For 40 years, the prestigious Balchen/Post Awards have been given to promote better snow and ice control and to recognize those individuals responsible for outstanding performance. Administered by the Northeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives, the award program was founded in 1976 as the Balchen Award in honor of Col. Bernt Balchen, who had a distinguished career in aviation, particularly in pioneering Arctic exploration. In 1996, the award was renamed the Balchen/Post Award to also honor Wiley Post, Jr. for his 30 years of dedicated service to the International Aviation Snow Symposium.