Genève Aéroport thanks all those who appreciated its April Fools’ Day prank and confirms that shoveling snow two hours before the first snowfall is not feasible. At least not before 1 April 2019! :)
In the event of snowfall on the tarmac, the snowplow, brushes, milling, shovels, trucks and vehicles join for a waltz... This meticulous choreography ensures a sufficient braking coefficient, visible and bright markings and allows to clear the snow mounds from the immediate vicinity of the runway. This winter, Genève Aéroport was joined by renowned scientists for the purpose of clearing snow from the runway and tarmac two hours before the first snowflakes appear.
Genève Aéroport relies on innovative technologies, as recalled by Giovanni Russo, Director of Operations at Genève Aéroport. “We have only one runway and, therefore, we need to avoid as much as possible long interruptions of aircraft traffic, by continuously thinking on new methods”.
To do this, Genève Aéroport has called on scientists from Swiss and foreign universities in order to evaluate the runway and tarmac.
Operations will take place in two stages. First of all, the platform floor will receive a special SiO2 (liquid silica) based treatment, second most common component in the Earth’s crust after oxygen and which has been used for a long time as a main component of glass.
Liquid silica penetrates the porosity of stone and crystallises with the free lime of the CO2 contained in the treated material, in this case the concrete of the runway and the tarmac.
This treatment gives the soil hydrophobic properties, thus creating a thin protective film that slows down the formation of ice.
In a second step, a molecular vibration generated by the snowplows’ brushes will release enough energy to melt the snowflakes before they accumulate. Feedback shows that just as the image of a muscle in action, the soil can be treated with methods inspired by the Nordic culture of Swedish massages. To do this, the snowplows had to be adapted.
In addition, the rate of sodium chloride present in the concrete (after salting) would get a snow resistance of more than 17.9%.
Results have shown that two hours are enough to activate these molecules and tests performed this winter on the platform were a real success.
“A laboratory of innovations, the airport will enable, once more, a theoretical project to take off. And then, this makes me feel better to see trucks working on the tarmac two hours earlier than they do now”, says André Schneider, General Manager of Genève Aéroport.
The new procedure has been implemented this weekend and confirms Genève Aéroport’s policy in terms of exploitation and operations.