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Snow Removal for Airport

Discussion in 'Government Property Snow Removal' started by TUPilot, Feb 29, 2016.

  1. TUPilot

    TUPilot Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    I’m an airport operations manager that is new to the snow removal scene. Up to this point we’ve been using contractors for our snow removal needs, but we are looking into purchasing and operating our own equipment. I’m trying to evaluate things both on an economic and logistical basis.

    Basically we have about 1.2 million square feet of pavement to clear. About half of it is comprised of aircraft parking, hangar areas, and roads/parking lots. The other half is taxiways and runways. We probably are going to continue using contractors for very large storms to get the airport open in a reasonable amount of time, but for our common two or three inch storms—and even up to a foot or so-we’d like the flexibility of doing things ourselves.

    For the parking area it seems like a wheel loader, tractor, or backhoe with a good size pusher. If possible, we’d want to run the loader up and down between rows of aircraft; these runs would be about 350 feet long. Is it possible to push snow that far in a straight line? What size pusher/wheel loader would be appropriate for that application?

    The problem with the taxiways and runways is that we don’t have a place to plow the snow; we either need to blow it somewhere or pick it up and move it. It seems like blowing would require fewer hours. Anyone have experience with large blowers, either that mount on heavy equipment or self-contained units like Oshkosh makes?

  2. Randall Ave

    Randall Ave PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,412

    I'd say go to other airports and see how they do it. A contractor is going to leave that kind of equipment on site on a may call agreement?
  3. Philbilly2

    Philbilly2 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,126

    I can't answer your questions on sizing of machines.

    I am just have a couple of questions in terms of the logistical end as long as you are going about this from a logistical and economical standpoint.

    How many machines are you going to buy? 28 or so acres (i believe if my math is on) is quite a bit for a novice operator with 1 machine.
    How many employees do you have for the snow removal process?
    What are you going to do when your equipment brakes?
    Are your employees capable of running such equipment?

    Just a couple of things from an outside prospective.
  4. 1olddogtwo

    1olddogtwo PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,393

    What's avg snow fall and location?
  5. Longae29

    Longae29 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,954

    Only having a contractor for "the bad ones" usually doesn't work well for any parties involved.
  6. FredG

    FredG PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,655

    You beat me to it, Good ?
  7. Philbilly2

    Philbilly2 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,126

    Good point here too. Reminds me of rally routes for municipalitys. Call only when they can't handle it. Sucks to have the equipment sitting for only when they could not handle a storm. No one want's equipment sitting for the "perfect storm"
  8. TUPilot

    TUPilot Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Maryland, about 20" to 25" with several 3-4 inch storms and normally one or two a bit bigger per year. Every 5 years or something much bigger; we don't have the manpower to run enough equipment for a five year storm so we will need contractor assistance.
  9. TUPilot

    TUPilot Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    I think we'd be looking at two machines; using some of the production stuff I've seen it looks like we'd be able to get the facility cleared in about 12 hours with two, and that way we'd have backup and be able to limp by in the event one failed and we could not repair it.

    We'd probably look at training four employees on the equipment.

    Breaking equipment is one of my big concerns--hence why I'm looking at the logistics side rather than a simple "it costs x per hour and will be done in y hours" approach. Depending on the path we take we'd probably need to develop a close relationship with someone that can provide emergency service, send one or more of our more mechanically savvy guys to training to deal with at least minor issues, or simply plan as if one piece of equipment is going to break (or a combination of all three). Not cheap or simple, so one big plus with a contractor is having them worry about that stuff!

    Some of our employees would be fine (they have run much larger and more complex machines), some I'd be on the fence about. But I could get four, and it is not out of the question that we'd consider hiring someone with heavy equipment experience on both the operating and maintenance side if we could figure out some stuff to keep them busy in the summer.

    Great points... exactly the stuff I'm trying to sort through!
  10. 1olddogtwo

    1olddogtwo PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,393

    The problem is this

    I'm a contractor, I have X amount of EQM that produces X amount per hour plowing snow. I can only make XXX.00 per hr when it snows.

    Now, I have you that only wants me as back up, for if the big snow comes whenever that might be.

    I think you'll have hard time finding a GOOD contractor that will back you up.
  11. Philbilly2

    Philbilly2 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,126

    I guess another point that has not been brought up is:

    Will these machines sit all summer? OR: Are you going to do a winter lease? Is it cost effective to have a machine sitting all summer if this is a purchase or can you apply this machine to some other aspect of the work that is preformed during the summer if it is owned or being payed on each month? If it sits all summer, we all know what happens to machines that sit...

    So we are talking about 12 hours on a 2-3" event and that is an acceptable time frame for your location?
  12. Whiffyspark

    Whiffyspark 2000 Club Member
    from SOMD
    Messages: 2,402

    Where at in Maryland?

    Winter leases may be an option. Be hard pressed to find someone on call unless you want to wait until their done
  13. TUPilot

    TUPilot Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    That may be so, and is something I worried about, however it hasn't really been an issue in the past. Talking with folks who have been around longer than me and reviewing records it seems like on many occasions the normal contractor has stated "the forecast storm is too big, shop for someone else" and someone has been found. It seems like we have a lot of construction firms looking to do something in the slow season so getting people and equipment has never been a problem. Are they good by your standards? I don't know. Are we paying too much? I don't know. But it has worked thus far, so I'm focusing on the other 98% of storms where we don't need to find a special contractor.
  14. Aerospace Eng

    Aerospace Eng Senior Member
    Messages: 117

    I'd start by reviewing this document...

    "Airside Snow Removal for airports with limited budgets"


    First piece of equipment they recommend is a plow truck; second is a snowblower.

    At Zelienople (KPJC) where I built my hangars, the airport in total (my equipment, FBO's equipment, Airport's equipment is:

    A Barko 961 with a 16' sweepster broom...a broom is important as you can't use salt and approved di-icers are $7 per 1000 square foot...prohibitive except for the largest airports. For small snowfalls, up to about 1.5 inches, nothing else is needed. The airport got the Barko with a fecon head for keeping the obstruction surfaces clear of growth. No idea as to cost.

    A 1986 rebuild of a 1948 Sicard Senior snowblower, for getting rid of windrows and piles. Capacity of about 2000 tons per hour.

    Two ex-Penndot 6 wheel plow trucks, one with a wing, one with a sander.

    Two pickups with plows.

    A articulated truck and a telehandler with pusher boxes for between hangar rows. A loader with the box would generally be the way to go, but I had a truck and didn't have a loader. The telehandler is nice because it is virtually unstoppable, very maneuverable and can either stack or push piles well off the pavement. It's not used as much now that the airport has a blower, but if a b lower isn't in the budget, I'd look into a telehandler with a box or, ideally, a plow with wings.

    Basically the plows and pushers put snow into windrows or pushed piles and then the snowblower blows them into the detention pond or out into the weeds.

    Takes 4 guys 3-4 hours to clear the airport (entrance road, ramps, taxilanes, taxiway, runway. I haven't calculated the square footage.
  15. Aerospace Eng

    Aerospace Eng Senior Member
    Messages: 117

  16. TUPilot

    TUPilot Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    One big headache I see is that most of the stuff heavy enough to push efficiently is too big for many of our summer needs. A backhoe or tractor would be more versatile (digging, mowing, etc.) than a wheel loader but reading lots of threads on here it seems they might not having the pushing capacity we want.

    From research on here and other sites, it looks like some of the older equipment that is past its prime on the job site can still be effective at snow removal. I think purchasing a lower cost unit would be our preferred avenue, and just run it periodically in the summer to keep it from sitting. We also might be able to store equipment inside if it isn't too big. If we bought something desirable, we could even lease it out in the summer--but that creates its own problems.

    I don't know much about leasing from someone in the winter... has anyone had any luck with that in their operations?
  17. Whiffyspark

    Whiffyspark 2000 Club Member
    from SOMD
    Messages: 2,402

    You can lease from alban cat
  18. TUPilot

    TUPilot Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Thanks, the link and info should be useful. We have a smaller runway (3000x75) but a larger ramp. We have about 150 tie down spots and 35,000 square feet of corporate hangars that all have their own ramps. Its a lot of pavement for only a 3000 foot runway, which is why I was thinking pusher on a piece of heavy equipment. I'll need to check out the broom options as that sounds like a winner for slush and light snows.

    MIDTOWNPC PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,414

    Stick to what your good at
    Hire it out
  20. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,425

    Why are you considering taking it in house?