MLI Crews Clear Runway for Air Traffic - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

MLI Crews Clear Runway for Air Traffic

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We're used to seeing city crews plowing our streets and neighborhoods after it snows, making things safe for drivers. But what about pilots?

"FAA gives us a guideline that says for every inch of snow, we need to remove that within one hour." Mike Allardyce manages airfield maintenance at the Quad City International Airport. He says his crews don't stop working until they see pavement.

"Our high speed runway brooms should be able to maintain our 10,000 ft. long, 150 ft. wide runway down to bare pavement," said Allardyce. The machines used on the airfield don't look like a typical plow or salt truck. In fact, salt isn't even allowed on this airfield.

"There's absolutely no salt, Allardyce said. Road salt is very damaging to an aircraft. "We use different types of chemicals that don't work as well as salt."

Since the chemicals don't work as well as salt, it's manpower that has to keep snow and ice from sticking to the runway. Pilots count on it.

"They're moving much faster, so they need to know how much friction there is between those tires and the pavement so they can actually get stopped in plenty of time." It's call "breaking action" and during a major snowstorm, it deteriorates fast.

"Do they have enough breaking action to be able to land safely?" It's an important question that needs to be answered by the crew members on the ground. If breaking action is poor, an airport could shut down. But that's rare for the Quad City International Airport.

"We've got an excellent snow crew here," said Allardyce. "We take a lot of pride in maintaining our airport and keeping it open for the traveling public, as long as it is safe."