2011-09-05

Ideal equipment combined with the right attitude

Schmidt TJS at Stockholm-Arlanda Airport
Schmidt TJS at Stockholm-Arlanda Airport

Leading by example: At Stockholm-Arlanda International Airport, wintry conditions are no problem

“We are simply well prepared”, says Jan Lindqvist, spokesman of the airport operator Swedavia. The company is among others in charge of Arlanda Airport, the international airport of Stockholm. In only one sentence, Mr. Lindqvist sums up all the measures that are taken at Sweden’s largest airport to ensure that flight operations continue as normal even in adverse weather conditions. In this responsibility, Swedavia is supported by Schmidt, contributing both equipment and know-how.

The bundle of services that Arlanda receives from Swedavia appears to be well-balanced. Mr. Lindqvist states: “Heavy snowfall may cause flight delays also at Arlanda Airport, but we wouldn’t shut down because of that. During the cold season, the 35 full-time employees who are in charge of maintaining all open areas are assisted by 65 additional workers, so that we have a 100-strong winter service team at our disposal for snow removal alone.” This workforce and its vehicle fleet, which includes 21 Schmidt Towed Jet Sweepers (TJS-C 560) with heavy-duty snow ploughs (Tarron MS 72.1), are backed by a well-coordinated administrative board.

Whenever heavy snowfall is expected, the Arlanda Snow Council convenes. It serves as a strategic forum for the cooperation of in-house winter services, the airport operator, weather services, commercial airlines, ground handlers and the Swedish aviation authority, ANS. “This is where all the measures to be taken are discussed and determined”, Mr. Lindqvist says.

“The individual teams are assigned to clear snow on specific routes at regular intervals – every 35 to 40 minutes.  They receive their instructions from the control tower via radio”, Mr. Lindqvist explains. Each snow removal team comprises ten jet sweepers, a snow blower and, if necessary, an additional sprayer for de-icing operations. For this purpose, Swedavia employs special Schmidt ACE airport liquid sprayer, the Schmidt SUPRA snow cutter blower and the Schmidt TJS-C 560 Compact Jet Sweeper. Equipped with a special airport snow plough, a broom and a blower unit, this heavy-duty vehicle keeps surfaces clear of snow and ice over a clearing width of up to 4.75 metres, by performing a three-step process: At first, it pushes the snow out of the way, then the brush detaches and sweeps up the remaining snow and ice, and, finally, a high-pressure jet of air blows any remaining solid or liquid particles sideways.

It takes between six and ten minutes for a team to clear one of the three 45-metre-wide runways, two of which are 2,500 metres and one 3,300 metres in length. A specially equipped friction tester subsequently measures the grip of the surface. Subsequently, the control tower informs all arriving flights of the measured value. “And then it’s up to the pilot to decide whether that value is sufficient for a landing”, Mr. Lindqvist adds.

Thomas Pollul, who is in charge of Schmidt’s airport products and services, states: “You can really tell that our colleagues in Scandinavia have a different relationship with snow and ice compared to countries in Central Europe. It is an integral part of their lives and not a natural phenomenon that only occurs for a few days or weeks between November and March. The fact that some airports were forced to close and countless flights had to be cancelled after heavy snowfall is simply due to completely different standard conditions”, he explains. “This is why it’s very difficult to draw comparisons between different airports in terms of their winter preparedness.” London-Heathrow, Stockholm-Arlanda and Leipzig/Halle or other airports all have different geographic conditions and, most notably, different operational requirements. Mr. Lindqvist concurs: “Compared to Frankfurt, Arlanda is smaller.”

The figures speak for themselves: Last year, Stockholm reported 17 million passengers, Frankfurt 53 million and Heathrow more than 65 million.

Nevertheless, last winter has shown that there is room for improvement at every airport. “We are seeing growing demand for our airport solutions”, Mr. Pollul says. “After all, Schmidt is the partner for airports.”  The Key Account Manager adds: „We regard ourselves not only as a supplier of equipment that is tailored to the needs of civil and military airports, but also as a guide and provider of ideas.” This includes individually developed strategies and suggestions to specifically improve winter services: “This concerns the settings and capabilities of our products, the logistics of snow removal and effective de-icing or even complete snow removal concepts that take account of the time constraints involved in removing snow on runways or in the entire airport area – always keeping in mind its economic, safety and ecological aspects.”

The latter is playing an increasingly important role: Swedavia has resolved to make Arlanda Airport as carbon-neutral as possible. In this effort, they are also supported by Schmidt as Mr. Pollul explains: “Last year, we developed a TJS-C 560 in cooperation with Volvo that runs on methane diesel which makes it a perfect fit for Swedavia’s green policy to help them achieve their ambitious goal.”