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38 CHAPTER NINE OPERATIONAL FACTORS Survey respondents were asked to identify the kind of problems An interview with the driver of one incident indicated that he they have encountered at airports relative to reduced visibil- was going fast because of the pressure to get the movement ity, seeing where they are on the airport, or the difficulties in area cleared for a scheduled flight. Higher vehicle speeds navigating on the airfield when engaged in snow plowing, decrease driver reaction time and increase braking distances, brooming, deicing, or other winter operations. They were which accounts for one incident where the driver entered a then asked to identify how they solved the problems. Their runway from an intersecting runway because he was going so responses as noted here provide insight into the varied oper- fast as to not brake in time. Different airport operators said ations of different-sized airports and their organizational the key to not having an incident, incursion, or collision with structure and resources. another vehicle is to simply slow down the operation as vis- ibility decreases. Maintaining proper distance from other The synthesis questionnaire asked about the use of outside vehicles was important and adding lighting on the rear of contractors for snow removal operations. A few replied that vehicles has helped. they did use contractors and, if they were used, they were restricted primarily to landside purposes only (the plowing of If the visibility gets too poor, several airports stated that access roads, parking lots, etc.). However, the larger airports their policy is to stop snow removal operations until condi- may allow or require their tenants to be responsible for snow tions improve. Others had specific limits for stopping, such as removal on their leased areas for which the airlines or FBO may at 300 or 600 ft RVR. When encountering a whiteout or pass- contract with snow removal contractors needing access to the ing squall condition, one airport's practice is to stop and stay airfield. This can pose a problem of access control and safety. in position until it has passed. This requires good communi- cation with other vehicles and with ATCT, if in operation. The few airports that did use contractors on the airfield side generally restricted them to the ramps and other non- · "Pull the operators off in low visibility--manage the risk." movement areas. These operations can cause an incursion or · "We lead our snow teams with our most experienced incident. To assist in preventing such occurrences, a number of operations staff. Most of these staff have over 20+ years methods and techniques are used. Proper training of contractor working on the airfield, and they always know where personnel in pavement markings, signage, and operational they are. We also have the latest equipment with our constraints is key. A good practice is to include contractors runway snow teams. These vehicles are lit up like a in the preseason and post-snow event briefings. Several air- winter holiday, and are easily seen in poor visibility ports made it a point to close the area being worked on through conditions. They also have the best deicing capabilities the NOTAM system. One airport outlines its ramp area in red like heated windshields, etc." lights to distinguish it from the blue lights associated with taxiways. A number of airports provide a dedicated opera- AVOIDING OR PREVENTING INCURSIONS tions or maintenance employee to oversee the contractor operation. The airport monitors or escorts will park at the A survey question asked about the practices, procedures, boundary of the movement and non-movement areas to act as methods, or techniques used at the airport for avoiding or a physical reminder of the demarcation. preventing the incursion of vehicles on active and/or cross- wind runways. The responses to the question are related As mentioned in previous chapters, all snow events present somewhat to the category and staffing of the airport, but more some measure of degradation in visibility and SA. Blowing so to its philosophy of operation. Either the airport philoso- snow, whiteout and blizzard conditions, blowing sand, heavy phy centered on maintaining an active runway for aircraft fog and precipitation, equipment blocking line of sight, and operations during snow removal activity, or closing the run- vehicle blind spots were all factors cited by operators as affect- way for snow and ice removal activity. The different philoso- ing visibility. Outside the vehicle, the accumulation of snow or phies represent different approaches to managing risk and the snow banks obscuring signs and lighting is a major issue. different benefits that may be derived from that choice. Several airports reported that excessive vehicle speed The most frequent procedure mentioned by respondents was a cause of an accident and incursion on their airport. was close coordination between the snow crews and ATCT
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39 or pilots, primarily through the use of one point of contact. transmissions are performed with the ATCT supervisor Typical responses were as follows: working with our crews on our airport's UHF frequency. This allows our snow removal crews to listen to one · "One person in charge." radio, avoiding VHF frequency, and ensures the super- · "Single command vehicle for ATCT communication." visors and work force personnel are all on the same page · "Groups of vehicles under one call sign." with ATC." · "A dedicated Ops Manager works directly with the run- way snow team. The Ops Manager is in direct contact Some airport operators choose to conduct snow removal with the tower at all times; the snow team moves with operations on the runway without closing it (56). This type of close coordination with the tower." airport operation was more prevalent at airports having only · "Snowboss is responsible for advising drivers when air- one primary runway that had to be kept open or airports hav- craft are taxiing and their current location and heading." ing very little traffic such that snow removal crews could operate without interruption for long periods of time. Another common response from airports with an ATCT was for all vehicles to monitor ground frequency. This com- · Sample Response: "Coordinate with ATCT between ment came from airports that used the team approach to snow arrivals, snow supervisor confirms with equipment oper- removal, where the team lead vehicle had responsibility for ator that they are on the runway." communicating with ATCT and the other vehicles just lis- tened. One airport without an ATCT indicated it had one Conducting snow removal operations with an operating vehicle operator monitor approach control, another operator ATCT requires close coordination and excellent communi- monitor CTAF, a third monitor unicom, while all vehicles cation. Close coordination, which would be spelled out in monitor a common second maintenance radio frequency to an LOA, requires a good working relationship with ATCT share information. However, not all airports have sufficient personnel. Lacking a good and trusting relationship, either staff and well-equipped vehicles (usually general aviation party may feel uncomfortable conducting winter operations and small commercial service airports). Relying on equip- while the runway is still open. ment or personnel from supporting departments may present a problem due to lack of airport operational familiarity and · Sample Medium-Hub Airport Response: "We have two training. parallel runways here that intersect with our crosswind runway. Whenever we have to cross any of the active Several airports made it clear that they always close a runway intersections with our snow removal crews, the runway when conducting winter snow removal operations Operation's duty manager is the person that requests all on it. Although the category of airport that practiced this phi- crossings with the ATC supervisor. Again, Field Main- losophy varied from non-hub to large-hub airports, it was tenance supervisor's vehicle is in the lead, and the more likely that this practice was employed at medium- to Operation's vehicle brings up the rear, and reports to large-hub airports because they could continue aircraft oper- the ATC supervisor when all vehicles are clear of a par- ations on one runway while focusing their resources on the ticular intersection. This system has worked very well other runways. The economics of the decision involved in for us for many snow removal seasons." closing a runway requires balancing the heavy demands for · Sample Non-Hub Airport Response: "Close coordina- continuous operation with the efficiency of clearing a run- tion with ATCT. Status review by snow removal team way and taxiway system. supervisor. Constant monitoring of ATCT frequency by all snow removal operators." · Sample Large-Hub Airport Response: "The airport · Sample General Aviation Airport Response: "Conduct- always closes runways for snow and ice control, even ing snow removal on the runway between operations is when taking sanders down the middle of the runway for a frequent occurrence at our airport given the amount of a 5-min operation." traffic we experience (a busy GA airport). During snow · Sample Medium-Hub Airport Response: "At our airport removal, we typically have six Maintenance personnel we only have equipment on a runway that isn't closed on duty responsible for plowing, and one Operations when we are applying sand to bring up the friction ratings. person that acts as the `Snowboss.' One of the main When we receive a pilot report that the braking action responsibilities of the Snowboss is to coordinate all has deteriorated, we take a Field Maintenance supervi- movement of the plows on the movement area with the sor's vehicle along with an Operation's vehicle out to the ATCT and act as a single point of contact between the affected runway to accompany the sand trucks for their ATCT and plows." applications. Usually the Field Maintenance supervisor will lead the sand trucks and the operations vehicle will One airport specifically remarked in their survey response bring up the rear to ensure that all vehicles are clear of that they had experienced several situations during winter oper- the runway after application, and to check to see if the ations when ATCT forgot they were on the field and approved friction values have improved. All coordination via radio an aircraft operation for the area they were working in. Two