Ted Stevens International took delivery of their new snow units from Yukon Equipment Inc. which won three awards in 2011 at the Oshkosh Dealer Meeting. The three awards included Dealer of the Year North America, Top Sales Dealer North America, and Top Parts Sales Dealer North America.
Quad City International Airport (QCIA) is conveniently located within a large regional population base in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. The airport is the third largest in the state of Illinois, behind Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway. It is, however, home to the second longest runway in the state, a 10,000-foot runway known as “9/27”.
QCIA has a loyal following due to its convenient location and smaller footprint. “Quite a few customers choose our airport due to its proximity to larger markets, and our smaller size,” explains Mike Allardyce, Airport Facilities Manager at Quad City International. With 29 years of experience at QCIA, Allardyce understands the reasons for its success. “We’re very easy to get in and out of, and things like our parking rates are very reasonable. Plus the demographics from the area make us a convenient destination for a large number of air travelers.”
A host of recent airfield infrastructure improvements have positioned QCIA for continued future growth. Late last fall, the airport cut the ribbon on a complete renovation and rehabilitation of 9/27, a project that began in 2007. The ceremony occurred at the “bulls-eye” intersection where the airport’s three runways all intersect. The signature component of the renovation was the conversion of the main runway to concrete from asphalt. This portion of the project involved 47,000 cubic yards of concrete, and the addition of paved shoulders on each side of the runway as an added safety enhancement.
Keeping the runways open and aircraft moving is a job that falls to Allardyce and his team, and he is thankful to see the infrastructure upgrades. “I’ve worked at the airport for 29 years, and I’ve seen a whole lot of changes from the time I started,” recalls Allardyce. “With our renovated 10,000-foot runway, we can handle just about any size aircraft, and now the quality of the pavement – going from asphalt to concrete – means a major improvement in strength and durability.”
SNOW REMOVAL EQUIPMENT UPGRADES
The airport’s runway layout, along with the length of 9/27, creates its own set of demands when it comes to the snow removal process. “Anytime you have a runway that is 10,000 feet long and 150 feet wide it is going to present snow removal challenges,” states Allardyce. It was perfect timing, then, that just as the runway renovation was completed, a new fleet of four Oshkosh front-mounted brooms and a high-speed blower joined the airport’s fleet. “The new brooms came just in time,” says Allardyce. “The age of our fleet was close to twenty years. With the runway improvements and changes to FAA requirements for snow removal, it was the perfect time to upgrade our snow removal fleet.”
The four H-Series front-mounted brooms each feature a 350 hp EPA 2010 compliant chassis drive engine, a proprietary Oshkosh two-speed transfer case, an 18-foot broom powered by a dedicated 475 hp engine, a forced air blower system, and ALL STEER electronic all wheel steering. The H-Series high-speed blower vehicle features a 500 hp chassis drive engine, a two-stage rotary snow blower powered by a dedicated 700 hp engine, a reversible helical ribbon with dual motor drive, and the same ALL STEER system.
How is this new equipment utilized at QCIA? “For any snow event, we start as soon as the first snowflakes fall,” states Allardyce. “We stay on top of the situation and that’s a testament to our snow removal operators and crews. They are very professional and do a great job.” He continues, “With the Oshkosh brooms, we can do one half of a runway at one time. In past years, it would take our crews three passes to clear one runway. Now it takes just two passes. The brooms sweep all of the snow off to one side and the Oshkosh high speed blower comes along and throws the windrow as needed.”
The high-speed ribbon blower replaced a much slower auger type. “Anytime you’re in an active runway situation, you don’t want equipment out there any longer than absolutely necessary,” said Allardyce. “The high-speed blower has really helped with that. It’s a pretty impressive sight to see the high-speed blower throwing a large arc of snow off the edge of the runway. That unit can throw a lot of snow!”
COMFORT AND SAFETY GO HAND IN HAND
With shifts that can run from 12-16 hours during a snow event, the drivers’ needs were a key consideration when evaluating manufacturers. “The cab comfort and ALL STEER technology are two of the features that our drivers really appreciate,” states Allardyce. “The driver position is excellent and the layout of controls is intuitive. Plus the wrap-around windshield and 360° views provide excellent visibility, making it an important safety feature. And the air ride seats are very comfortable, which is very important when staying alert is critical. “Comfort is truly tied to safety,” explains Allardyce.
Maneuverability is a big bonus on the new Oshkosh units, thanks in part to the aforementioned ALL STEER electronic all wheel steering system. “The ALL STEER technology provides a tremendous benefit when you reach the end of a runway and need to turn around,” explains Allardyce. “With the old brooms that we had, you had to make a three-point turn to get the vehicle turned around within a 75 foot space. With the new Oshkosh, we can pull a simple U-turn with no problem at all.” Allardyce continues, “This is also an important safety feature, as you don't have these large pieces of equipment backing up on a runway.”
SUPPORT AND TRAINING ARE KEY
Keeping a fleet of snow removal vehicles in top condition requires a lot of planning and a support team you can count on. For QCIA, an important part of that team is Temco Machinery of Aurora, Ill. “Temco is a great asset to our airport. Anytime we have any issues with our snow equipment, or need information, they are always ready to respond. The same goes if we need any parts support. They are fantastic on the service side of the equation, and are great to deal with.”
QCIA has its own team of maintenance professionals, and they went to school on the new Oshkosh products as soon as they arrived. “Part of our purchase agreement with Oshkosh included sending our two mechanics to Oshkosh training school for a comprehensive five-day course,” said Allardyce. The course is designed to familiarize them with the new equipment, the new engines, the new hydraulics, the new electronics, and everything else. The training has been phenomenal.”
As the trucks have been in service this winter, the engineering behind their Command Zone electronics system is paying productivity dividends. “The mechanics really appreciate the ease of troubleshooting on these trucks. The on board computer diagnostics have really helped a lot in terms of pinpointing a possible problem, and have minimized potential vehicle downtime.”
So what kind of impact have the new Oshkosh vehicles had on snow removal operations? Phenomenally, it is measured in hours rather than minutes. “With our new Oshkosh equipment and procedures”, explains Allardyce, “we’ve been able to trim back the total amount of time spent on a snow removal event by six to eight hours. That is a major upgrade in performance and productivity.” Good news, indeed, for the airlines and the traveling public served by QCIA.