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.
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) lies between – and an equal distance from – Tokyo and New York City. The airport proudly serves 57 air carriers, including 29 domestic and 18 international airlines. In the past year, ANC handled over five million passengers. Cargo carriers, which benefit from short route segments, use ANC for transporting goods to and from the Far East. With more than 600 wide-body cargo landings per week, it’s no surprise that the airport pumps nearly 2.5 million gallons of fuel each day.
“People think of Anchorage as out there in the wilderness,” states Zaramie Lindseth, Assistant Manager for Airfield Maintenance at ANC. “But in reality, we are the second largest airport in the U.S. for landed weight of cargo, and the fifth largest airport in the world in terms of cargo throughput.”
Airfield Maintenance responsibilities at ANC encompass all airport grounds outside of the terminal facilities, and include snow removal, which is the department’s primary function. In addition, the department oversees vehicle maintenance, airfield electricians, fleet management, the machine shop, and even a sign shop.
A PROUD RECORD
The average snowfall in Anchorage is 69.5 inches, and the airport had 73 snow and ice events in the 2010-2011 season. Despite more than 768 acres of airfield pavement, the airport has never closed due to snow conditions. ANC is a four-time winner of the Balchen Post Award for Large Airport Snow Removal Programs, which is awarded to airports able to keep runways open under adverse snow conditions. “We’re proud of our record here,” said Lindseth. “There has never been a single instance where we’ve been closed due to snow – that’s a fact. In the ten years I’ve been here, the airport has closed just twice. Once was due to winds in excess of 100 mph, and the second time resulted from volcanic ash falling on the airport from Mount Redoubt, which is located about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage.”
The absolute need to keep runways open at all times is partly due to geography. “Anchorage is really unique in that there are not a lot of places for an airplane to divert,” said Lindseth. “There’s Fairbanks, and the military base across town is an option, but they’re usually experiencing the same conditions we are. The next closest airport is 400-500 miles away. That’s why it’s critical for us to keep the airfield in good landing condition.”
THE ANCHORAGE SNOW REMOVAL FLEET
The current fleet of vehicles at ANC includes 395 pieces of rolling stock of all types. “We handle equipment selection for state owned vehicles and equipment on the airport,” says Lindseth. “This includes snow and ice removal vehicles, aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) trucks, and light duty vehicles. Basically, anything with wheels on it, we manage it. One of the most challenging responsibilities for our department is keeping the fleet up to date. Every year we replace 6-10 major pieces of equipment and a handful of light duty vehicles.”
The airport’s core snow removal fleet is comprised of 20 Oshkosh multi-tasking units. These include the HT-Series trucks with 24-foot front plows that are pulling cradling brooms. “The Oshkosh multi-tasking unit is our workhorse,” states Lindseth. “The same can be said for the H-Series snow blowers. There isn’t anyone that doesn’t like hopping into one of the new Oshkosh units.”
ANC places a top priority on its snow removal operators, and this is one area where the H-Series shines. “Much of our success is attributed to pairing our fantastic team of operators with capable machines,” say Lindseth. Oshkosh believes keeping fatigue down is important when operators may need to spend 8-12 hours a day in a vehicle. The ergonomics and driver comfort are second to none. And having all primary functions automated, right there on the joystick, is a huge plus. In addition, the ALL STEER feature allows the vehicle to turn around within their own length, so making a U-turn at the end of a runway is not a problem.
With two runways that are over 10,000 feet long, and one that is 12,400 feet, the snow removal process has to be well planned. “We go out there when it starts snowing and begin a rotation,” says Lindseth. “Our typical configuration would be five or six HT-Series plow and broom multi-tasking units. They will line up on the centerline, staggered, and sweep it one direction. Towards the end of that line, they build up a berm next to the lights. Then the H-Series snow blower picks up the windrow and throws it over the lights.”
The H-Series blowers are each equipped with a 700 hp dedicated blower engine and a 470 hp engine to power the chassis. “In real bad situations, we’ll run two blowers back there to keep up,” states Lindseth. “Then, depending on the temperature, it’s followed by sand, urea, or liquid deicer after the runway’s been swept. Once we get to the end of the runway, we turn around and come down the other side. That’s our standard configuration 95% of the time, and the practice that we found works for our conditions. We keep that rotation up throughout the storm – and we always keep two runways open. We get a runway swept in 20-25 minutes.”
MAINTENANCE IS PRIORITY
Maintaining the fleet is critical. “On the maintenance side, we’ve got to keep everything running in top shape,” said Lindseth. “Like any piece of equipment, the snow removal vehicles require maintenance, and our mechanics use all the latest tools available.” Lindseth is proud of the airport’s 120,000 square foot, state of the art airfield maintenance facility. “It was built from the ground up to support our operations,” said Lindseth. “We’ve got a large, pull through warm storage area so the snow fleet can just pull in and pull out. And with this facility we can service our HTs with the plows left on them. In this harsh environment, anytime you can keep equipment away from the elements and ready to go that’s crucial for us. We also moved all our fueling stations alongside our building, so we can refuel six brooms side by side.”
Open communication with Oshkosh and its local dealer, Yukon Equipment (with facilities in Anchorage and Fairbanks), is evident. “We have an excellent relationship with Roger and the team at Yukon Equipment,” says Lindseth. “They pay us a visit frequently to see how we’re doing. If we have any requests or issues that need to get to Oshkosh, they go through Yukon, who keeps the conversation open. And our airport airfield manager, Dan Frisby, has participated in customer input meetings at Oshkosh. He came away knowing that Jeff Resch and the team included some of his input in the new units that were recently introduced.”
When Lindseth is asked about the Oshkosh brand, he summarizes, “There’s a certain amount of reliability you expect with an Oshkosh snow removal vehicle. It’s a quality machine, and we’re pleased with the role it plays in Anchorage.”