Keeping it clear of the white stuff

29 Jan 2015

This is some of the equipment deployed to keep our main runway clear and open for business during the ‘snow event’.

Crews were ready for the snowfall. Giant sweepers and tractors swung into action to do what they’re supposed to do when snow threatens operations.

It’s worth remembering that for every cm of snow that falls, there’s approximately 375 tonnes deposited over the main runway which covers an area in excess of 12 hectares. So, the equipment has to be up for the task as soon as the call is made.

Operations director Alan Whiteside summed up the effort: “I’m delighted with our response to the snow falls. There were no flight diversions and only a small number of delays as we cleared the main runway. We expect further snowfalls but we’re fully prepared and will do all we can to remain operational. In dreadful conditions, staff did a wonderful job. They are the unseen part of what we do, but central to maintaining our vital domestic and international air links.”

The sweepers are manufactured by Overaasen in Norway, and are towed by a large AWD New Holland tractor.

Each sweeper costs in the region of £250k, and the tractors cost around £50k.

There are 3 of the Overaasen runway sweepers, which are towed in echelon along the runway to remove snow deposits.Large plough blades on the front of each New Holland can be used to remove heavier or deeper snow to allow the sweeper to do its job.

Alan adds: “We leave nothing to chance, but that said, there can never be any guarantees that we’ll beat the forces of ‘Mother Nature’. But we do our best and, in the past, our best has seen us contend with deplorable conditions and remain open for business.”

Staff training starts every September to familiarise them with the equipment before the start of each winter.

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