Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Airport to get $400K snow broom

Staff: Equipment will make runways safer

Express Staff Writer

Friedman Memorial Airport will spend more than $400,000 on snow removal equipment that airport staff say will make the airport safer.

Friedman Memorial Airport Manager Rick Baird asked the Airport Authority board to approve the writing of a grant application for federal funds to buy a “snow broom,” a mechanical piece of equipment that sweeps snow off runways and taxiways.

The airport already has one snow broom, which it is using to sweep snow off the runway to avoid what Baird called “runway contamination,” or potentially dangerous obstacles in the runway.

Airport Operations Manager Pete Kramer said the broom helps limit flight delays after storms by quickly working to clear runways of snow and ice.

“Rick asked me how I liked it and my only comment was, ‘I wish we had two more,’” he said.

Baird said the broom would be necessary if SkyWest Airlines begins running regional jets into the airport, a move for which they have been approved. Baird said the regional jets require “more aggressive” runway criteria than the aircraft already using the airport, with almost no runway surface contamination such as snow and ice.

“We have found that the solution to that is the broom,” Baird said. “It’s going to make us a safer airfield in the long run [if we have] two brooms going.”

Two brooms would allow the taxiways and overflow apron to be cleared more quickly, Baird said. Use of the broom would also reduce use of de-icing fluid, which is not environmentally friendly and which costs the airport roughly $25,000 per year. The de-icing fluid also damages carpet in both the commercial and the Atlantic Aviation terminals, Baird said.

Replacement brooms for the equipment cost $3,500 each and last 18 months. Replacement blades for the airport’s current snowplow, which would be used much less often with a second broom, cost far more than that, Kramer said, to the point of being “frighteningly expensive.”

The snow broom will cost about $463,000 if the airport is able to “piggy-back” on a bid process done by the city of Idaho Falls for the same snow broom, as allowed by Idaho law. Baird said that joining this bid would allow the airport board to save money on legal and engineering fees. The broom would be acquired in time for next winter.

Kate Wutz:




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