With the beginning of the cold season, the winter service at Munich Airport also starts: From next Tuesday, November 1st, the specially trained employees will be available around the clock.
The winter service can be deployed at any time if necessary, thus ensuring safe flight operations even in bad weather. The winter service convoy comprises 181 vehicles, including 66 tractors from companies in the area around the airport. A total of more than 600 men and women are involved in the winter service, around 520 of whom come from agriculture and haulage companies in the region. Up to 190 emergency workers per shift ensure that the areas within the airport fence are free of snow and ice.
In order to enable airport operations to run as smoothly as possible, large areas have to be cleared when it snows: the two runways alone, as well as aprons and taxiways, cover around 5,6 million square meters, the equivalent of more than 780 soccer fields. Clearing a runway at Munich Airport takes about 30 minutes. In addition to tractors with snow ploughs, numerous special vehicles are used, including 22 snow sweepers, six loading machines and two snow groomers. The cleared masses of snow are shipped to six specially set up snow dumps.
The winter service is alerted by Munich Airport's traffic management, which monitors the condition of the operating areas around the clock. In addition to the current forecasts from the German Weather Service, the traffic management uses a black ice early warning system, which obtains constantly updated data from a total of 18 measuring points distributed throughout the airport, as an aid. In addition, the braking values on the runways are continuously checked with the help of special vehicles.
It's not just the airport's traffic areas that have to be kept in an operationally safe condition during the cold season: the planes also have to be cleared of snow and ice before take-off. This is done by a total of 22 so-called "polar bears" from the company for de-icing and aircraft towing at Munich Airport (EFM), a subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Flughafen München GmbH. "Polar bears" are special vehicles that spray de-icing agent on the aircraft immediately before take-off. EFM de-ices up to 15.000 aircraft – from the Learjet to the Airbus A380 – every year. The used de-icing agent is collected and largely recycled – the recycling rate is up to 70 percent.