Winter at the Airport
Ice can impact air travel in many ways, much like that of traveling by vehicle. However, the complications for aircrafts and airports can be much more difficult and expensive to resolve. First, there is the ice that can accumulate on the runways and taxiways the aircraft use to takeoff. To remedy this on roadways, a form of salt is used by many different entities to melt the ice and make travel possible, but we also know this leads to rust and corrosion on vehicles and deterioration of roadways. While this is not an ideal situation for our cars and trucks, it is manageable. Corrosion of an aircraft's landing gear or pavement failure can have catastrophic consequences. It is for this reason, only those deicing chemicals found to be non-corrosive and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration may be used on airfields.
There are both liquid and solid deicers an airport can use to try and battle the ice and the city's aviation division uses both at Rosecrans Memorial Airport. The solid form is an irregular shaped blue granular which is spread onto an airfield by a drop in a spreader attached to one of the operations and maintenance vehicles. The liquid version used is a brine made from mixing the granule type with water and then applied to the runway with a sprayer attached to a tractor. Due to its complexity and strict certification standards, solid airfield deicers normally cost around $1 per pound, compared to bulk road salt at a price of around $.03 per pound. Therefore, each ice event at an airport becomes a game of chess between the staff and mother nature to use the material most effectively and efficiently as possible, in order to provide quality of service to the military, public and private aircrafts flying into the airport.