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2020 Vol. 20, No. 1

Top 20 tips for better snow removal

snowy runway

Winter’s here and snow is falling on airports throughout the state. It’s not too late to brush up on methods for safe and efficient snow removal with the following checklist—and it’s not too early to take notes for next year.

  1. Participate in pre-season planning and develop a detailed snow removal plan that specifies the priority areas to be cleared first, a timeline for snow removal, plowing methods, and equipment to be used.
  2. Identify in the snow and ice control plan where cleared snow will be piled—areas where the ground will support the weight of the plow and snow can be pushed far back from the aircraft operating areas. Consider sightlines as well, and don’t create snow banks in locations where visibility is important.
  3. Share the snow removal plan with airport tenants so they know what to expect around their hangars.
  4. Take the MnDOT eLearning course to get training on proper radio communication procedures with pilots and/or the air traffic control tower.
  5. If the runway is unusable, file a NOTAM to close the runway.
  6. If the runway is usable but needs clearing, file a NOTAM to notify pilots that snow removal equipment will be on the runway.
  7. Listen to the radio carefully for traffic in the area and communicate your movements clearly.
  8. Maintain situational awareness.
  9. Use truck lights and rotating beacons to improve visibility.
  10. Give aircraft the right-of-way at all times.
  11. If an aircraft is circling to land and the runway is usable, leave the runway while it lands and then resume plowing.
  12. Plow the main runway first, then plow other areas in this order: taxiways, aircraft loading area/ramp, public roadways, secondary runways and taxiways, hangar taxi lanes, and vehicle parking areas.
  13. Never pile snow directly off the ends of the runway; always clear sufficient areas extending past the sides and ends of the runway to provide plenty of wingtip clearance and visibility of runway lights and other aircraft.
  14. Do not put snow banks, mounds, or ridges exceeding two feet along the edges of the prescribed snow clearance areas designated in your airport’s snow and ice control plan.
  15. Clear around NAVAID equipment and other sensors to provide access for maintenance.
  16. Note required clearances indicated on the snow removal maps in your airport’s snow and ice control plan.
  17. Use caution when plowing around aircraft tiedown rings, lights, signs, and NAVAID equipment. After plowing, check light/sign couplings and all other equipment to ensure they are intact and operating correctly.
  18. Report any damage that might have occurred while plowing.
  19. If you must stop before the plowing is complete, or are unable to plow certain areas, be sure to issue a NOTAM for the surfaces that have not been plowed.
  20. Remove NOTAMs once plowing is complete.

For more information:

AirTAP | University of Minnesota | Minneapolis, MN 55455 | Location & Contact Information