BILLINGS – Snow blanketed Billings on Monday morning, but it was business as usual at Logan International Airport where, as of the early afternoon, no flights had been delayed. This operational efficiency is thanks to the work of the airport operations crew and their brand new snow removal equipment (SRE).
The two new SREs combine a 22-foot blade and a 20-foot brush, which allows the operator to simultaneously plow and sweep.
“We can have one operator run essentially two pieces of equipment at the same time,” said Airport Operations Supervisor Mick McCarthy.
Shoveling snow is a winter task that no one enjoys, but the city’s requires all property owners to remove snow from public sidewalks within 24 hours.
However, the airport is in charge of shoveling an area that is a lot bigger than your driveway, and the regulations are quite a bit more time sensitive.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires that in the event of a winter storm dropping one inch of snow, all commercial airports are required to clear priority one areas within half an hour.
At Billings Logan International, the priority one areas include the main runway, the parallel taxiway and the air carrier ramp, according to Assistant Director of Aviation and Transit Shane Ketterling.
The SREs, model name MB5 Mid-Mount Broom, represent a significant improvement over the existing plows, which were beginning to become a burden to maintain.
Ketterling told MTN that airport mechanics spent a significant amount of time on maintenance and troubleshooting for the 20-year-old plows and that replacement parts were becoming increasingly difficult to find.
In winter events, the plows can be required to operate for extended periods of time and as such their reliability is extremely important.
The other factor of high importance is driver safety. The new plows offer better visibility to operators with additional windows in the cab, and the mid-machine placement of the broom ensure that snow is directed away from the operator’s line of sight.
The two new SREs cost $1.5 million and were paid for through the Passenger Facility Fund, which is designated for FAA approved projects in commercial service airports.
Reporting by Connor Pregizer for MTN News