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Preparing for winter at SXF und TXL With almost 400 employees and more than 70 dedicated ice and snow clearance vehicles

November 28, 2018 Airport No Comments Email Email

Schönefeld and Tegel airports are well equipped for the winter season. The ground maintenance staff at Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH, WISAG and Aviation Ground Service Berlin are responsible for clearing the snow and ice. Every year, the launch of the winter flight schedule in October marks the start of the winter season at Berlin’s airports Schönefeld and Tegel.

A total of around 390 employees work at both locations in multiple shifts. Up to 210 airport employees and service providers are responsible for maintaining and de-icing the ground and up to 150 employees at WISAG and Aviation Ground Service Berlin are responsible for de-icing aircraft.

Together they use an average of 900 tons of liquid, 460 tons of granulate and 130 tons of sand for an area of 327 hectares every winter.

Well prepared for the 2018/2019 winter season

Starting in October, winter diesel will be ordered so that all vehicles run smoothly, even at temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius. So that the vehicles are as reliable as possible, many have been fitted with fuel heaters, engine preheating and charge retention devices. The airport company orders chemical de-icing agents for the runway from two independent suppliers. Deliveries are made on demand, within 24 hours. This year, the high cost of raw materials has led to a noticeable price increase when purchasing chemical de-icing agents.

Clearing snow and ice at Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH

The airport company’s ground maintenance service clears all runways, taxiways and aprons within the secure area. External service providers clear roads and walkways in the public area. On average, Berlin’s airports consume around 900 tons of liquid (calcium formate), 460 tons of granulate (calcium formate) and 130 tons of sand for their flight operations every winter. The de-icing agents demonstrate very good environmental properties, as formates are completely biodegradable and only possess limited toxicity for water and plants.

A total of 327 hectares of ground space must be maintained:

• TXL: 111 hectares / SXF: 121 hectares / BER: 225 hectares (95 hectares are already in operation)

Storage capacity for de-cing agents:

• de-icing fluids at TXL: 243 tons / SXF/BER: 567 tons

• solid de-icing agents at TXL: 120 tons / SXF/BER: 360 tons

It takes about 30 minutes to de-ice a runway. Approximately six tons of granulate and twelve tons of liquid are consumed when de-icing a runway.

74 specially designed airport maintenance vehicles are available, 35 in Schönefeld and 39 in Tegel:

These include 4 new clearance vehicles for the runway team, which were put into operation at the beginning of 2018 and replace obsolete technology: clearing width: 5.30 metres / total width of snow plough: 7.20 metres / total length of vehicle: 19 metres. State-of-the-art electronic control / joystick operation. This year, new compact sweepers will be delivered to be used on the aprons at BER.

The vehicles have an automatic switch-off if an area has already been spread. The quantities of spreading material can be measured very precisely, either manually or automatically, depending on various factors. The quantities spread per area are recorded electronically. All operations are documented precisely in terms of time and place, so subsequent evaluations and verifications are possible.

Aircraft de-icing by WISAG and Aviation Ground Service Berlin

The employees of WISAG and Aviation Ground Service Berlin are responsible for aircraft de-icing. De-icing operations are coordinated by the Airport Control Center employee. Depending on the size of the aircraft, weather conditions and the technology used, it takes about 30 minutes to de-ice an aircraft. Depending on the type of aircraft and weather conditions, consumption varies between 200 and several thousand litres of de-icing fluid. The fluid used is environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

Storage capacity for de-icing fluid:

• TXL: A total of 256,000 litres, of which 188,000 litres are in tank storage and 68.000 litres are in vehicles.

• SXF: A total of 496.000 litres, of which 450.000 litres are in tank storage and 46,000 litres are in vehicles.

• Additional emergency storage capacity: 100,000 litres.

WISAG and Aviation Ground Service Berlin vehicles:

• A total of 24 de-icing vehicles of types Vestergaard Elephant Beta and Beta-15 (14 at TXL, 10 at SXF) / Maximum work height: 13 to 23 metres / de-icer tank capacity: 5,000 to 8,000 litres.

At Schönefeld, winter maintenance and flight operations run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So that flight operations can begin at Tegel at 6:00 a.m., the first shift of the day begins at 4:00 a.m.. In extreme weather conditions, the on-call service can also be alerted from 1:15 a.m. onwards. In case of continuous snowfall, the employees at both airports work in multiple shifts around the clock.

Service information for travellers

In the event of extreme weather, passengers should plan more time for their journey to the airport and stay up-to-date with the current situation at the airports and their flight status well in advance of their departure. Passengers can find information on their flights by contacting the respective airline or tour operator. Passengers can also find information and check their current flight status at, via telephone at the airport info desk +49 30 6091 1150 or on Twitter (@berlinairport).

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