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WINTER OPERATIONS


would be Leipzig Airport in east Germany which used to be a relatively small, quiet airport with 1.2million passengers per year. Because of that small size the airport had a small winter operations fl eet of just a few vehicles to maintain the airfi eld during cold weather but everything changed when DHL chose to move its operations from Cologne to Leipzig. The company came to the airport with a “wish list of requirements” which included that the runway could be cleared in 15 minutes if there was snow. As a result of that the airport authority went out and bought 23 new jet sweepers to power a much bigger and more dynamic winter operations capability. Moscow Sheremetyevo is also looking to change their fl eet because they had four or fi ve diff erent suppliers, and to train 150 staff to operate the diff erent vehicles was becoming an issue. A process of standardisation has consequently ensued so that most staff can now operate all types of equipment at the airport. Despite the long working life of a lot of winter operations vehicles,


the requirement to innovate, introduce new technology such as automation, and reduce the emissions and carbon footprint of airside vehicles is also driving a change in approach. Mike Moore says that new legislation to reduce emissions, engine noise and vibration is an important part of that process. “Customers, if they are buying something new, want to see new technology. With the older machines there was a defi nite skill to getting the engine revs to the right level for example to deal with a bank of snow. But with the new machines you can put an inexperienced operator in, they are quieter and they do use a lot less fuel.” The level of automation in operating the vehicle is that much higher which means that inexperienced drivers can be trained to use them extremely quickly whether they are working at civilian airports or military bases and whether they are dedicated airport personnel, military personnel or third party winter workers. For example, the new Supra 5002 snow blowers being used at


Heathrow have an automated drive. The vehicle also has an ECO- mode which ensure that only the necessary engine power needed to drive the cutting-head and pumps in all conditions is used.


28 / AF / Nov/Dec 2016


The requirement to use machines which have the lowest possible carbon emissions is also high on many airports’ list of procurement requirements particularly in Scandinavian countries. Swedavia operates all 10 airports in Sweden and has stipulated that by 2020 they will all be carbon neutral sites. In order to achieve this the operator has worked with ASH Group to develop what the company says is the fi rst CO2 neutral compact towed jet sweeper in the world. Since 2014 the company has been in the process of delivering 75 of the vehicles to diff erent airports in Sweden. In order to develop the Jet Sweeper TJS the company worked closely with Volvo so that its engines can be fuelled by a mixture of biogas and biodiesel. According to the company it does not diff er in power from other TJS machines which are powered by conventional Volvo engines. It is equipped with an airport snow plough and the hydraulically powered sweeping unit is located under the supporting frame and can be locked lengthwise for transport. The blower unit generates a lateral air fl ow of up to 145 metres per second over the complete width which blows away the snow across the runway. According to the company the Green TJS can operate without


refuelling for more than six hours and, depending upon snow quantity and height, can work at a speed of up to 50km/h. The vehicle’s design was developed with the safety of the operator in mid says Thomas Pollul. “A healthy environment for the driver is extremely important. It is operated by joy-stick so the driver can be focused solely on his driving path. Noise is also extremely important and we have to measure noise levels around the machine and make sure the capsule is insulated against it. Yvonne Bjornstrom, manager of Swedavia says that the company decided to go down this route with its winter operations equipment because towed jet sweepers were using one third of its total fossil carbon dioxide emissions. “We have had the fi rst carbon-neutral towed jet sweepers working for one winter season at fi ve of the 10 airports,” he said. “We have been using biodiesel this fi rst year and we have had a reduction of at least 20 per cent fossil carbon dioxide emissions.”


By using biogas and biodiesel together the following year the company estimates that this reduction can be increased to 60-80 per cent. For airports of course the cost of winter operations vehicles is a


major factor and the goal is to have fewer more effi cient machines which are able to get through the same amount of work as their legacy fl eets. According to Pollul old compact jet sweepers worked with an operating lift of 3.5 metres – today’s machines have increased this to 6.3 metres and snow ploughs up to 8 metres. “Time is money at an airport,” he says. “Depending on your runway you can save one or two guys working on a particular area.” In terms of the wider vendor market for airport winter operations Pollul says that there are fewer companies working in the market which has become “more concentrated.” He adds: “But It is more international, not just Europe and the old


world. In the 1990s there were maybe 20 companies in this fi eld of operations and today there are six.”


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