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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, 10:13
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UK airports inability to deal with snow

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?
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 10:25
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Simple economics - it's not worth spending a few hundred thousand dollars on the kit , its maintenance and training the operators for something that happens maybe once every 3-5 years and only lasts a day or so

If you live in Russia, Canada or Norway you have to have the kit - in much of the world it's just not worthwhile...............
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 10:27
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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?
It all depends on incentive.
Now that the airport is comfortably in private hands rest assured they have done the numbers.
Sunk capital into expensive equipment can't be justified when, on probability the number of days in any given year the airport is affected is below a given threshold.
Much better improving the revenue mix with more shops and car parks. As they say money for nuthin'

Thus as a monopolistic airport owner, they are all rather chuffed that the 'externality' is borne by the poor old taxpayer that built the asset in the first place. The politicians who sold the public assets have long ago spent the money and comfortably retired on the back of the same taxpayer.

Been going on a while and nothing changes...

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/n...irport-admits/
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 10:39
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I wondered when this rant would come up.

Put simply, other places in the world get much more snow on a more regular basis, so it makes more financial sense for them to invest in posh expensive snow-clearing equipment to continue normal operations. Here in the UK such events are pretty rare and as such there isn't the business case to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on snow clearers that sit unused for 11 months of the year rotting away with flat batteries and siezed engines and driveshafts and de-icing fluid that goes off because its not been used and is therefore unusable (did you know that? De-icer fluid has a shelf life? Thought not.), which then all costs a hell of a lot of money to put right again... It's actually financial sense to accept that for a very short period of time things will be disrupted but then the world carries on as normal after said short period of disruption has passed.

As for Heathrow, it will always struggle, because it is at capacity. Any small thing will thus completely stuff everything up.

But hey, without understanding all this it's much easier to have a good old rant on PPRuNe. Hope you feel better now.
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 10:51
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Maybe it's because it does not snow often enough to make the needed investment worthwhile?

It seems to snow less that it did a few decades ago.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/201...getting-rarer/

Images originated from Met office. The paper had a 3 image gif. I have extracted the individual frames and also attached the gif below.




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Old 1st Feb 2019, 11:12
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Less snow that 20-30 years ago, who'd of thought it. Looks like us young generation do actually have it better.

So money on drone defenses is more useful than money on snow defenses.

I do appreciate the irony of Brits skiing holidays being cancelled or delayed due to snow too!
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 11:19
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Heathrow and Gatwick have plenty of snow clearing kit already. Not sure about the smaller airports!
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 11:45
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Originally Posted by Out Of Trim View Post
Heathrow and Gatwick have plenty of snow clearing kit already. Not sure about the smaller airports!
When I was stuck at Heathrow in December 2018 I understood the reason was health and safety on the ramp! The certainly wasn't any damn snow.
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 11:48
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It boils down to costs. It's cheaper to face some hours of chaos than having the full kit and trained staff ready 24/7.
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 11:53
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[QUOTE=TelsBoy;10377264]I wondered when this rant would come up.

Put simply, other places in the world get much more snow on a more regular basis, so it makes more financial sense for them to invest in posh expensive snow-clearing equipment to continue normal operations. Here in the UK such events are pretty rare and as such there isn't the business case to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on snow clearers that sit unused for 11 months of the year rotting away with flat batteries and siezed engines and driveshafts and de-icing fluid that goes off because its not been used and is therefore unusable (did you know that? De-icer fluid has a shelf life? Thought not.), which then all costs a hell of a lot of money to put right again... It's actually financial sense to accept that for a very short period of time things will be disrupted but then the world carries on as normal after said short period of disruption has passed.

As for Heathrow, it will always struggle, because it is at capacity. Any small thing will thus completely stuff everything up.

But hey, without understanding all this it's much easier to have a good old rant on PPRuNe. Hope you feel better now.[/QUOTE

They seem to have applied the same criteria to drones....

Bit of a lazy attitude I feel ? How much does this cost the airlines and I’m sure you’d feel more incentive if it was your holiday delayed or ruined.
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 13:04
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Meester proach (cracking username!)

Sorry if I came across badly. As said elsewhere it all boils down to cost sadly. It's not lazy, it is simply a balance (as with everything) between cost and benefit. Drones was simply ignorance I believe, whereas winter ops is different. Believe me I've been there (with screaming toddlers) when my holiday's been delayed but nothing can be done!
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 13:12
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"I’m sure you’d feel more incentive if it was your holiday delayed or ruined"

I wouldn't be happy but I wouldn't be surprised either. When I travel on business or pleasure I think about the weather, public holidays, strikes etc - if i MUST be somewhere on a specific date I add in some extra hours or days - and that applies to cars/trains/planes

It's amazing so much of the ssytem works the way it does - but we've come to expect perfection every time, all the time - and that is ... unlikely I'm afraid
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 13:18
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Originally Posted by ZFT View Post
When I was stuck at Heathrow in December 2018 I understood the reason was health and safety on the ramp! The certainly wasn't any damn snow.
I wasn't there.. But, as someone that has suffered a broken leg slipping on ice whilst working on the ramp at Gatwick; maybe they had a good reason to halt operations. There was no damn snow then either!
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 13:54
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Airports in recents years have spent millions on snow clearing equipment etc but you can have all the equipment in the World but ultimately you cannot operate a runway when it continues to snow heavily. You also need to appreciate the people & training that is required to operate the machinery and the fact you cannot have staff trained up by standing by all year long in case it snows. In other Countries it snows for months hence the investment in personnel is worth while but in the UK the guys and girls operating the equipment will be drafted in from other departments across the Airport.

Also, airlines can take their share of the blame when they don't "spend enough money" on their de-icing contracts and can't run their own schedule based on the number of rigs they pay for...

Some airlines rightfully cut down their schedule based on a forecast even if the snow doesn't arrive because its absolute mayhem in terminals when flights get cancelled on the day. Last winter one airline got that wrong and cancelled their schedule on the day of the snow event despite the fact we got the runway open and was available throughout the whole day. You can imagine the chaos in the terminal and on aircraft that had already boarded their flights. That hadn't nothing to do with the airport.
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 14:50
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NONE of us are so important that we have to defy the weather and travel on time every time. Get real. People get a slight delay and they just whinge. In the end most regulars have iPads and laptops full of things to keep them busy or amused -and I say that as someone whose flight back to BRS is cancelled and there’s not another planned for at least 24hrs.
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 15:17
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Originally Posted by V12 View Post
NONE of us are so important that we have to defy the weather and travel on time every time. Get real. People get a slight delay and they just whinge. In the end most regulars have iPads and laptops full of things to keep them busy or amused -and I say that as someone whose flight back to BRS is cancelled and there’s not another planned for at least 24hrs.
Not my sentiment when our flight from Frankfurt to Hong Kong was delayed due winter weather, we lost our connecting flight to Manila, therefore the day's last flight to Busuanga. Had to find hotel in Manila for party of eleven, then the same number of new air tickets, lost one prepaid day at the resort.
Travel insurance is a good thing.
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 15:58
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Originally Posted by Daz80 View Post
When are we going to accept that snow actually happens and we need to prepare for it?
We being an island have a maritime climate whereas the continent has continental type climate.
This means our snow is wetter and heavier than the snow falling on the continent which is much drier and lighter.

As a result:
You find the ski resorts are on the continent not the the UK as light powder type dry snow is easier and more pleasant to ski in while heavy clogs of mush wet snow that we get in the UK is not.
Added to which the dryness of the atmosphere makes it less unpleasant to humans, so - 20C in Austria "feels" not as bad as -5C in the damp wet UK
Light dry snow is easier to clear and to snow-blow away - unlike the snow in the UK.
We have to snowplough it off the roads and runways etc - that takes a lot of time and effort/energy to move it.
Added to which if you don't move the wet UK snow off roads it is then compacted down and freezes into sheet ice which is now much more difficult to move and more difficult to gain traction over. Hence why our roads become a nightmare in snow.

It is literally a different type of snow....

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Old 1st Feb 2019, 16:13
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This morning in Helsinki, from stop at the deicing stand to the moment the Embraer 190 was moving again took 3,5 minutes. There were four trucks operating two for the wings and two for the tail.In my opinion that was pretty effective...

But yes, HEL has to have this capability, no question about it.
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 16:26
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If you have one runway and it's snowing you have to "close" it as you can't land aircraft on it while it's blocked

Passengers / media just react to "runway closed"

While in reality it's a team of fire men working hard to clear tons of frozen water from area 45m x1600m in conditions 95% of people being critical of them would not step foot in
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Old 1st Feb 2019, 16:31
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It is literally a different type of snow....
It is said that the Inuit people of the Canadian arctic have seven different words for the different types of snow. Yup, 'makes sense to me! I have literally spent more money on snow clearing/grass cutting equipment for my home runway, than either of my three planes cost me. Snow clearing cost is an investment you can choose to make or not, based upon your sense of whether you need to fly when it's snowy or not, and your guess as to how often there will be enough snow to need to clear. Three winters ago, I only cleared snow three times all winter, this winter, very different!

Airport operators will serve the needs of the users of the airport, who will have to pay for those services. If you want the runways always clear, it can be done - for a cost! But a part of that cost is capital equipment, which will just sit and cost money if not used, so it's a business case as to whether it's worth the cost, if heavy snow is infrequent.

Here in Canada, we can expect that once it snows, melting away quickly is unlikely, 'cause it'll stay cold, so better clear it. In other places, even a heavy snowfall will likely met away in a day or so, so its a big cost to clear it early, knowing that it will melt away anyway. That kind of snow, as mentioned, will be wet and heavy = extra work to clear. The very cold not likely to melt away soon snow is light and fluffy, and easy to snowblow away - once you buy the snowblower!
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