Keeping Things Moving


by Mike Ford

There are over 700 FAA registered airports in the State of Alaska, and the state of Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities owns 255 of them.

One of the goals of the DOT is to develop, operate and maintain an airport system that contributes to aviation safety. They achieve this by incorporating policies and programs to ensure safe airport infrastructure and a safe airport systems. Providing adequate airfield surface conditions and reducing obstructions in approach and departure surfaces.

Some of the safety measures are contracted out to private vendors like deicing of aircraft. When temperatures dip to a prescribed level and there is active precipitation the FAA requires planes to be deiced.

Keeping ice and snow off the air craft helps to keep the weight and balance correct. Timing of the process is critical to keeping planes safe and on time. Nate Hannah is in charge of maintenance for Consolidated Deicing Services. "What we are do is apply a heated type one which is propylene glycol it's like an antifreeze applying that to the plane to remove the contaminants and then if its snowing the captain calls for a type four which is an anti ice which is to keep up precip off the plane as he is taxing out"

With the volume of air traffic in Alaska during the winter, time is of the essence. "On a day where its snowing we're going to be doing easily from five to twenty aircraft, big wide body 747 cargo aircraft" said Hannah. Advancements in technology have streamlined the process making it easier for Hannahs team to make quick work of a plane while staying secure. "The truck is computer controlled, so your mix is computer controlled and your movements which makes for a reliable and safe operation"

With over $3. 5 billion generated by the aviation industry in Alaska each year, keeping planes ready to fly safely even in the winter remains vital to our economic well being.