May 23, 2017
Snow and ice have major impacts on airport operations, requiring skill, preparation and perseverance to keep airfields open and operating safely. Four U.S. airports with a significant business aviation presence were recently honored with the 2017 Balchen/Post Awards for their handling of winter-related challenges.
- Laurence G. Hanscom Field Airport (BED) in Bedford, MA won top honors in the Large General Aviation (GA) Airports category for airports with more than 50,000 operations per year.
- New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport (TEB) received honorable mention in the Large (GA) Airport category.
- Griffiss International Airport (RME) in Rome, NY received the top award for smaller GA fields.
- Indiana’s Columbus Municipal Airport (BAK) earned an honorable mention in the smaller GA airports category.
The awards were administered by the Northeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (NEC/AAAE) and presented during the annual International Aviation Snow Symposium.
Effectively managing snow and ice removal is a challenge for many airports, particularly those with smaller operating budgets. “It all comes down to having a good equipment fleet and an excellent group of employees,” said Dean Millington, airport maintenance superintendent for Oneida County, NY, which operates Griffiss. “Our staff works extremely hard.”
That team was tested in March when a storm dropped 33.5 inches of snow on RME over a 24-hour period. “We had zero visibility, posing a significant safety risk to our team on the field,” said aviation commissioner Russell Stark. “Our pre-storm planning included notifying flight crews well in advance that closure was a possibility, and our crews worked around the clock as soon as the visibility cleared.”
Winter 2017 posed a different challenge for BAK Assistant Airport Director Justin Bessler. “Our major issue this year was ice control,” he said. “If you wait too long to apply countermeasures, ice will sneak up on you and stay put; if you put the chemicals down too quickly, though, they run off and leave surfaces largely unprotected.”
Bessler added that his team monitors online weather resources – including WeatherBug, NOAA.org and weather.com – to gain the most accurate forecasts available ahead of winter storms.
NBAA encourages operators to recognize airports that meet the needs of business aviation during the winter season by submitting recommendations to Alex Gertsen, NBAA director of airports and ground infrastructure, at email@example.com.