Study of airport snow and ice removal and its economic implications

Lichliter, Andreas
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University of Delaware
For airports that regularly encounter storms with snow and ice in an average year, removal of this snow and ice is essential for maintaining safe operations. This snow and ice removal must not only ensure safe operations but also must be efficient because efficient removal is crucial to reducing airport delays and the resulting cost and impact that a snow storm has on an airport and its surrounding economy. The purpose of this thesis is to assist airports in determining whether they are appropriately managing their snow and ice removal resources and applying engineering best practices. Two airports in Europe and two airports in the U.S. that have approximately the same amount of annual snow fall and handle the same mix and volume array of aircraft have been identified for analysis of their snow and ice removal practices. These airports are Frankfurt, Germany and Vienna, Austria in Europe and Philadelphia and Boston in the United States. Data collection and categorization has been done by means of a Microsoft® Excel workbook, consisting of eight worksheets, to model the characteristics of the airport, the ground equipment, the storm, the aircraft and the time of day. This input information, in turn, generates the output consisting of delays and costs associated with a given scenario and allows for comparison with the other airports being studied. The excel workbook has been run on the four airports and on six snow storms. The analysis identifies which airports allocated their resources most efficiently and provides a basis for recommendations to the airports. The model may also be replicated for use by other airports. The thesis concludes that the airports in Europe are more prepared for and have a more efficient snow and ice removal strategy than the airports in the United States. Analysis was done for numerous parameters; the cost per passenger, the cost per metric ton of cargo, and the cost per hour that the pieces of equipment were in use. For most of the analysis parameters, Vienna International Airport was the most efficient.