By Daisy Silos | DFW Newsflash | September 2017
Winter is coming and the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is ready. Since mid-June, the airport has engaged in daylight training, where roughly 100 employees have been practicing how to use $30 million worth of winter weather equipment.
“We have brand new equipment and no one knew how to work the large Oshkosh multi-function,” said Jud Piner, manager of pavement and grounds at DFW airport. “We’ve been training so when winter finally does arrive, we know what we’re doing and everybody is familiar with how to operate the equipment.”
The airport invested in new equipment to ensure the airport remains running during the winter and the runways are clear of any snow, ice, or sleet. It will take less than 20 minutes to clear a runway with the new equipment. In September, employees began night training at 2 a.m. to practice a synchronized formation to clear the entire airport.
“In a real event, you’re responsible for the whole airport,” Piner said. “In order to practice your routes, you synchronize which equipment goes where, at what time and how they all come back together. You have to do the whole airfield and night time is the only time the aircraft operations are slow enough the tower will shut down the runways one after another and let you pretend you have a real snow storm to train for that scenario.”
One of the most important aspects workers have practiced is the synchronized formation to make things run fast and efficiently. Airport employees have put in many hours of training to keep workers and travelers safe. Media relations manager for DFW airport, Cynthia Vega, admires the employees’ commitment to prepare for winter weather in the Texas heat.
“They’re out in the heat because we want to start now and make sure they know how to run and operate the new trucks,” Vega said. “It’s as much about steering as it is about driving together in a formation. It’s a big orchestrated event like a ballet with everyone out there. Everybody has to play their part. We want to make sure they know what they’re doing so when the time comes, they’re ready to go and they can do the job. Our passengers benefit because their safety is also at stake.”
Lead technician of the science division at DFW airport, Steven Webb, has worked clearing icy conditions in the past.
“We’ve been prepared the last few years,” Webb said. “I’ve been out there as a driver previous years. We’re all really proud to say we’ve never shut this airport down and this new equipment will help us keep it going.”
Vega is really proud of how much thought DFW put into purchasing the equipment.
“By purchasing that equipment and training everybody so they know what to do, DFW airport has done the very best job,” Vega said. “We have looked out there at the world to see what are the best pieces of equipment to clear snow, ice and sleet, to see what’s the best way to train our people and what’s the best way to get prepared.”
Predicting the weather is difficult, especially in Texas, but if harsh winter weather appears this year, Vega is confident DFW has done everything possible to be prepared.
“You can’t predict the unknown, but we are doing everything we can with what we know to make sure we’re ready,” Vega said. “We are prepared for any type of weather condition that is going to come our way. It is in our best interest to serve our customers and make sure our travelers who come to the airport are able to fly on time.”