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UK airports inability to deal with snow

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UK airports inability to deal with snow

Old 1st Feb 2019, 17:46
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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It is often drifting snow on the ramp that causes the problems. Its relatively easy to drive a formation of sweepers down the runway but clearing around all the parked aircraft is a different matter. At BRS where there are no airbridges, the pax will always have to walk some distance and all those routes need to be cleared. Today, I was sent home, last year it took 3hrs from requesting deicing until ready to go. Frustration all round, unfortunately no simple solution.
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 19:49
  #22 (permalink)  
 
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Not just here. First time I flew into PHL we were one of the last ones in before it closed for several days. Yes it was a big dump of snow but on a part of the world much more used to it than us and it still had them closed for nearly a week.
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 20:01
  #23 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Daz80 View Post
BRS closed pretty much constantly from 2000z last night until much later today.

LPL, MAN and BFS closed last week for a good 2-3+ hrs at times due to snow clearance.

Yet we all fly into airports around the continent that manage to stay open with a mix of chemical de-icing and snow clearance procedures that only take 30mins or less.

When are we going to accept that snow actually happens and we need to prepare for it?
From what I hear BRS pretty much had snow non stop most of the morning into lunchtime, maybe even later. That coupled with having adequate equipment for our climate and how often we get snow, it's pretty much a losing battle when the snow is still coming. Don't forget BRS is on top of a hill and is an Airfield originally desgined as a bad weather training airfield.
BRS reopened in the early evening but the Airlines had already cancelled pretty much every flight for the rest of the day, with the exception of EI and the evening inbound KLM.
Questions are now being asked by the public why they couldn't operate some flights from other Airports. There were EZY aircraft in BHX and CWL. KLM did operate the AM flight from CWL and BM had an aircraft in SOU and BHX. Frustrations were probably a lot high because of the increased rugby travellers.

When are we going to accept that snow actually happens and we need to prepare for it?
Yes, it does, probably once a year though.
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 20:56
  #24 (permalink)  
 
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Maybe it's time next time runway works are carried out to install subterranean heat sources, keeping the ground/runway just warm enough to keep melting the snow on the rare occasions it does fall in theUK.
Small investment, lasting results, no training required, no machines to maintain and crews to train
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 20:59
  #25 (permalink)  
 
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Keflavik last year, heavy snow shower but the runway was open and usable in fifteen minutes after the last snowflake.
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 22:51
  #26 (permalink)  
 
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A mix of:
1. Denial. Color pictures about the snow statistics back in 1770 while snow disruption happened in the UK this year, the previous year, the year before that and the year before that. It will happen in 2020 too. What will you do if the UK gets the next vortex thingy? Close the country for weeks?
2. Mistification of snow. Special wet snow in the UK vs. dry snow in Europe? BS. You get both everywhere (and the other 20 types). You need to be ready to clean both. Guys blabbing in he telly about the end of the world with hardly flakes coming down around them? Come on. Should teach people what a winter tyre is and to have a blanket/shovel/food and a full fuel tank at all times if you don't want to be the Florida gators frozen in the swamp (thinking WTF??).
3. Different scales. Most of the times your "heavy" snow is not really heavy snow. Your "freezing" weather is not very freezing weather. Your feared snow "accumulation" happens in 2 mins in Helsinki. Yes, it's possible to operate airports in heavy snow (for even days/weeks of it), see Finland, Scandinavia, the Baltic states, Russia etc. Basically any place on Earth spending on it, planning with it and training staff to deal with it.
4. Economic excuses. Yes, ploughs, de-icing rigs and liguid are bloody expensive. As does landing lights, ILS, terminals, security staff etc but you still pay those to ensure safe and continuous operation. Airlines know that is expensive but they are willing to pay for them to avoid disruptions as they do in all corners of the continent. Buy/operate them and charge it on the airlines for God sake as does every airport in Europe. They will be happy to pay for it if they see something on return instead of the repeated meltdowns. A LOT better than shelling out the 250 EUR to each pax (if you fly to a country where the judge does not accept 1 cm of snow as the reason for an airport closure).
5. Training of staff. Can't do effective snow cleaning/de-icing ops with people who need winter preparation memos like "it will be cold", "you will need to wear gloves and warm clothing" etc. Send them for a training in Oslo, Stockholm or Helsinki to get the grasp of the task and how to deal with it. Not only the de-icers and the plough drivers. You get the news of fuelers refusing to get to the apron in 2mm of snow and you don't know whether you should laugh or cry.
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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 00:27
  #27 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by tubby linton View Post
Keflavik last year, heavy snow shower but the runway was open and usable in fifteen minutes after the last snowflake.
Keflavik as about enough storage and deice capacity to cover 15 minutes of departures from London Heathrow!
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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 00:37
  #28 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by bucoops View Post
Not just here. First time I flew into PHL we were one of the last ones in before it closed for several days. Yes it was a big dump of snow but on a part of the world much more used to it than us and it still had them closed for nearly a week.
PHL used to be used as leverage by the unions during labor disputes that had nothing to do with the airport itself. They are very capable of dealing with major snow events if they feel like it, provided that the Eagles are not playing.

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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 06:40
  #29 (permalink)  
 
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Kilimanjaro is located near the equator. Yet they used to have snowploughs an de-icing equipment. It came with the “standard USSR airport equipment” in the 1970s, when Tanzania had very friendly relations with Moscow.
All equipment was cannibalised in about 1 year.
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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 07:21
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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TBSC said "Training of staff. Can't do effective snow cleaning/de-icing ops with people who need winter preparation memos like "it will be cold", "you will need to wear gloves and warm clothing" etc."

Hit the nail on the head, the 'elf and safety culture is so restrictive, however if you go to some parts of the world and see the blatant disregard for common sense or the rules it makes you cringe.
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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 07:48
  #31 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Daz80 View Post
Less snow that 20-30 years ago, who'd of thought it. Looks like us young generation do actually have it better.
!
I think it's worse

I knew there was less snow on the ground from my own experience. I went looking for supporting evidence to post here since my anecdotes are not strong on their own.

I of course cannot recall how many days of snow we had in any year however I have taken part in several different snow-essential activities over the years.

As a child I went sledging at some point every winter it seemed. It would snow and there would be a week of sledging. Then it was not every year or the snow melted very quickly.

After I started driving I went snow driving on local hill roads in the night every year, then not every year, then almost never due to a lack of snow. What fun.

At a relatively late age I started skiing in Scotland, with good snow cover every year. The snow was fickle, sometimes there was snow in the west, sometimes in the east, but there was almost always snow for skiing in the winter. Within a very few years there was almost no reliable snow. I gave up skiing in Scotland.

I moved my skiing to Europe. Tignes in the French alps was open for skiing 365 days a year on the glacier there. Search for [tignes ski 365 jours par an] and click Translate this page. This season the glacier opened as follows:

29/09/2018: opening of the fall skiing season on the Grande Motte glacier
05/05/2019: closing of Tignes' glacier.[1]

That's about seven months. It's not that there is no demand. People love skiing.

A number of years ago (2005 ish) at Tignes a local guide pointed out a huge cablecar intermediate tower that he explained that his grandfather had worked on constructing. He said that the glacier ice had to be dug away to expose the bedrock for the foundations. As he pointed at it, the glacier was 100ft below the base of the pylon. Looking at a webcam image today it looks as if the glacier is quite a bit more than 100ft below the pylon. See first image below.

At Tignes the glacier is now "preserved" by creating snow trapping trenches. This was not necessary previously. See second image below. Again from a live webcam.

There is a lot less snow round here.

[1] https://en.tignes.net/what-to-see-do...inter-ski-area


Pylon is near centre of frame. When built the base of the pylon was buried in the glacier by a small amount. The entire outcrop was within the ice of the glacier.



Last edited by jimjim1; 2nd Feb 2019 at 08:02.
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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 07:54
  #32 (permalink)  
 
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Most UK airports have a “back to black” policy , they don’t have and can’t justify the cost of the equipment to maintain this standard of runway surface.

Go to Scandinavia and you will find snow covered runways with braking action enhanced with hot sand, of course the braking action is degraded but it will not stop you landing and taking off as long as you can meet the performance requirements of your aircraft.

I’m afraid the UK is Elf & Saftey gone mad and applied by people who simply don’t understand winter operations, if Norway applied UK practice there would be no flying from November to March from any airport north of Trondheim.
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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 07:56
  #33 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by farefield View Post
Hit the nail on the head, the 'elf and safety culture is so restrictive, however if you go to some parts of the world and see the blatant disregard for common sense or the rules it makes you cringe.
Indeed. I used to work for an Australian owned but UK run company, and almost died laughing when they sent out a 'winter preparation pack' to all stations globally. It was comically simple and contained information any 4-year old kid in my country would have known; that winter is cold, snow is slippery and ice even more so. If that's the level of communication you need to get the point across, I'm afraid there's not much hope.

It's also worth mentioning that it's the airports who'll have to finance the equipment, but the airlines who'll be bearing the compensation (EU261) claims. That's hardly an incentive for the airports to do anything about it, and as long as there's a demand for the airport to provide its service, there's not much apart from moaning and bickering the airlines can do about it. Sure, the airport could raise fares to finance the purchases, but that'll result in even louder moaning and bickering. Nothing's quite so short-sighted as airline ground operations; eyes are firmly fixed on the next quarter and money's tighter than a tight thing.
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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 08:22
  #34 (permalink)  
 
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The way it works is that the airport uses an event like this to raise its rates, then next year cuts the snow removal capability/deicing fluid, etc. as a cost cutting measure. Repeat as necessary. The economic argument will never be there. Snow is an act of God. For-profit outfits don't do God's work.
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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 08:37
  #35 (permalink)  
 
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Interesting range of views, some of which have hit the nail on the head.

When talking about the UK, one only has to remember that pretty well all its airports are in the private sector. At the end of the day, it all comes down to shareholder value and the bottom line.

You don't have to look any further than that. Get used to it.
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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 09:37
  #36 (permalink)  
 
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UK Elf & Safety is indeed ridiculous at times.

However, it all comes down to money... As airports are privately operated, they are free to choose the limit of what kind of disruption is economically viable, just as the airlines do. How many fail-operational B737NGs operate in Africa or Australia? Probably zero, because it makes exactly zero economical sense to pay a lot of money for the one time a year (or decade) you will need it. Or how many Cat 3B installations are there in those parts of the world?

I really don't see any sense in buying equipment to ensure Scandinavia-style winter readiness in UK, which gets 1cm of snow for 3 days a year.
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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 09:51
  #37 (permalink)  
 
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Surprised nobody has blamed Brexit yet!
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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 10:32
  #38 (permalink)  
 
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I liked jimjim1s reference to "the fall skiing season "

That's how I do it...............
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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 10:36
  #39 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
Interesting range of views, some of which have hit the nail on the head.

When talking about the UK, one only has to remember that pretty well all its airports are in the private sector. At the end of the day, it all comes down to shareholder value and the bottom line.

You don't have to look any further than that. Get used to it.
Exactly - you prepare for what you REALLY need - a couple of days disruption every 5 years is not a big issue. There'd be a load of posts about "waste", "corruption", excessive spending", "people paid to sit around for years for something that never happens" etc etc if the UK did bring in Norwegian levels of snow clearance preparation
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Old 2nd Feb 2019, 14:27
  #40 (permalink)  
 
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Re BRS; it is a matter of investment but also practice. I was based there in the 90s and recall one chaotic day in particular, with a snow mover moving snow from A to B and the next one that rocked up moved it back again; total confusion. Eventually took off bound for ABZ where the snow was much much worse and all the kit was moving in harmony, keeping runway and ramp clear. Relatively normal turn around and back to BRS chaos. So far as I could see much of the kit was the same it was the organisation.
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