Salt is for the roads, not for the runway

Rochester International Airport Operations team shares how they've been working around the clock to treat icy runways.

Posted: Feb 21, 2018 3:54 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - No one likes sitting on a runway because of a delay, but RST Airport Operations said when icy conditions are bad, delays are worth safety.

"One of our mottos is, ‘is it safe for my family to land’," Troy Reed, Airport Fire Chief/Operations Supervisor, said. “Think of the passengers up in the air or down on the ground…we’re always thinking of the passengers as our family.”

Reed and the airport operations team work around the clock to make this happen.

“We’ve worked 24 hours alternating people through since 6am yesterday,” Reed said.

But unlike how the roads are treated, airport runways aren’t treated with salt because it can rust an aircraft. They use a liquid formula called E-36.

“We’ve actually exhausted our supply, we just got another 4,400 gallons,” Reed said.

The operations team sprays the chemical on the taxiways before freezing happens. This pre-treatment makes the ice easier to break when it does freeze over. In addition to E-36, the operations team uses a solid sodium formula approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Ice is harder than snow, especially when it comes to managing it.

“It’s more taxing because we constantly have to monitor it. Where in a snow event there’s times where we can come in, take a little bit of a break. So the mental aspect of an ice event is a lot more to me than a snow event," Reed said.

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