Keeping the runways clear to accommodate the 10,000 travelers who fly in and out of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport daily can be a daunting task.
“You just got to go through your checklist every minute,” said Jeff Phillips, a nearly 20 year veteran of the airport. “So you know where you are at because you don’t wind up someplace you shouldn’t be.”
But for the airport’s seasoned grounds crew, snow removal has become part of their routine.
“We hit the runways first then we hit our secondary taxi ways and tenants,” he said.
The cleaning fleet can range from three snow blowers to a team of sweepers, sand trucks and snow wolves depending on snowfall.
“They’re a game changer,” Phillips said regarding the Snow Wolf, which can plow huge piles of snow and toss it two hundred feet in either direction.
Heated sand and potassium acetate is used to treat icy conditions, because salt is corrosive to the airplanes.