Heavy snow grounds planes

BLUSTERY WEATHER brought more snow earlier this winter than seen in years and the airport scrambled to get flights on and off the ground.

  • Nov. 27, 2011 6:00 a.m.

BLUSTERY WEATHER last week  brought with it more snow earlier this winter than seen in years – and the Northwest Regional airport scrambled  to get flights on and off the ground.

At least two flights leaving the airport were cancelled last week, and more were delayed or forced to land elsewhere.

Last week, approximately 69.8 cm of snow fell at the airport. This amount of snow hasn’t fallen this early since November of 2006.

“We’ve had a very intense amount of snow,” said Hawkair’s Rod Hayward. “Moreso than we usually see.”

As a result, Carman Hendry, manager at Northwest Regional airport, said it was difficult for planes to take off from the runway due to poor traction.

Landing was difficult too.

“The weather has made it difficult for airplanes to see the runway from way up high so that forces them to go elsewhere,” said Hendry last week. “We try to work on the runway to get it clear.”

The airport is equipped with three trucks with high speed sweepers, two snowblowers, three highspeed sweeper/plow truck combinations and two front-end loaders.

“All the equipment’s been running steady… from 5 a.m. until 12 a.m.,” said Hendry.

While the airport doesn’t own de-icing equipment, it does contract that out, said Hendry.

And it’s a good thing – one plane was de-iced three times last week before finally taking off.

“We de-iced the plane, then the runway closed, then we deiced the plane, then the runway closed,” said Hawkair’s Hayward,

“Then we finally had to de-ice the plane on the runway so it could take off.”

“This weather is expensive, and its inconvenient.”

Adding to the airport’s inconveniences was a temporary failure of the instrument landing system, which has antennae that send signals to planes that are landing.

“It did turn off until we had antennae cleared off,” said Hendry.

“It didn’t affect any flights.”

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