Although winter does not officially begin until December 21, Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) Pavement and Grounds (P&G) team begins preparing for the season’s arrival in August.
“Fleet Maintenance Shop #316 is working on equipment all summer long,” said Airport P&G Superintendent Anthony Alfonse. “In August, P&G and the Operations Department start discussing any changes in techniques and geographical changes in relation to the airfield, new taxiways, and construction work.”
By the fall, PHL Operations, Facilities Maintenance, and all maintenance shops have met to discuss any changes in the previous year’s snow and ice plan with a clear understanding of everyone’s responsibilities. New operators receive a classroom course on all snow-related regulations, including equipment, driver safety, driving, and snow removal technique, as well as FAA and Operations rules and regulations which govern driving on the airfield.
All operators train with the equipment on their shifts and as a team, four-to-six nights in the fall and early winter to further acclimate themselves with the equipment. “Our salt team trains on shift to ensure they are ready to salt and plow the roadways in, around, leading into and out of the airport,” said Alfonse.
P&G employees like Semi-Skilled Laborer Deborah Hill are responsible for salting and plowing the roadways. Hill and her coworkers carry a Class B Commercial Driver's License (CDL), allowing them to drive heavy machinery.
“We continue to train at least until the first weather event where equipment is deployed,” said Alfonse. “Training tests the equipment to work out any mechanical issues and to refresh all operators, so we know we are ready for the winter weather before it occurs.”
P&G’s training and hard work does not go unnoticed. PHL received honorable mention for the Balchen-Post Award for Excellence in Airport Snow and Ice Control from the Northeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (NEC-AAAE) for their work last winter.
P&G currently has all the equipment needed to tackle the winter this season. The department works closely with Fleet to keep all equipment up and running properly. PHL’s high-quality snow removal equipment currently includes:
- 7 broom trucks
- 8 sand/plow trucks
- 3 liquid chemical de-icer trucks
- 12 multifunction tractor trailers
- 2 multifunction jet Broom trucks
- 5 snow blower trucks
- 4 salt trucks
- 1 brine truck
- 5 front end loaders
- 7 small tractors with plows
- 84,700 gallons of liquid de-icer
- 395 tons of sand
- 29 metric tons of solid de-icer NAAC (solid potassium acetate)
- 400 tons of road salt (with 600 tons ordered)
- 45 -50 pound bags of calcium chloride
- 58 -55 pound bags of NAAC (solid potassium acetate)