By the Numbers: Winter Airfield Operations

January 6, 2022

Categories: At YWG

A plow clears snow on the airfield as an Air Canada plane taxis in the background.

At Winnipeg Richardson International Airport, we know snow. Long before the first few flakes start to fall, our airfield maintenance team is ready to go to help keep the airport open 24/7. Here’s a glimpse of how our winter operations add up to help keep aircraft moving safely. 

4 – Pieces of equipment which make up the snow clearing conga line. The formation is used to clean runways and taxiways as efficiently as possible. Members of the airfield maintenance team work in concert, operating machinery in a vertical line with each apparatus slightly staggered than the one it’s following. 

7 – How many months before the official start of winter the airfield maintenance team starts to get ready for the colder months. Each year, most of the preparation, planning and preventative maintenance on machinery is done between April and November.

29 – The number of winters the longest serving member of the airfield maintenance team has worked at YWG.

30 – Minutes it takes airfield maintenance crews to clear snow from the airport’s longest runway, which is roughly the same length of Portage Avenue from Downtown Winnipeg to Polo Park but nearly double the width. 

32 – The number of team members who make up the airfield maintenance crew during the winter months. Employees are broken up into four crews of eight and stationed at YWG around the clock. 

40 – Pieces of equipment in the airfield maintenance team’s winter fleet, including graters, snow blowers and plows equipped with massive brushes to sweep away snow.

1,500 – Tonnes of specially-produced gravel used each winter to help improve traction on the runways, taxiways and aprons. Regular sand can’t be used as it could damage aircraft, leading to costly repairs and delays. 

2,496 – Cups of coffee consumed by the airfield maintenance team each winter to help keep them fuelled and warm in the cold weather. 

55,000 – Litres of a specific type of salt, potassium acetate, which the airfield maintenance team uses throughout the winter to help prevent ice from forming on runways and taxiways. They also go through roughly 18,000 kg of a granular form of salt on the aprons. 

1,100,000 – Square metres of pavement crews are responsible for keeping clean on the airfield. 

Thanks to the tireless work, drive and dedication of the entire airfield maintenance team, YWG can continue to serve the community no matter what Mother Nature throws our way.

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