Snow, Ice, and Airplanes



February 13th, 2014

Now up at…

Everything you need to know about icing, deicing, and the perils of winter flying. As another winter storm bears down, about the last place you’d want to be is headed out to the airport. Delays and cancellations pile up, causing a ripple effect clear across the country and beyond. But what is it, exactly, about winter weather that wreaks havoc for air travel? Plus, the lessons learned from Air Florida, American Eagle, and others.

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4 Responses to “Snow, Ice, and Airplanes”
  1. Simon says:

    You raise a good point about winter storms appearing to have a bigger effect than they used to. I think you’re definitely right that snow/ice removal has not kept pace with the increase in air travel.

    Another issue might be low-cost air travel. I fear in the race to the bottom we’ve given up on all redundancy and error margins for the sake of the cheapest air fares. Sure we travel cheap, but just wait until one tiny thing goes wrong. Suddenly everything grinds to a halt because there’s no snow plows available, no relief crew around, no replacement aircraft, no extra ground staff, etc. In the quest to become as efficient as possible, we’ve trimmed away all our emergency ‘buffers’. This system might be cheap, but it’s the opposite of robust.

    • Alex says:

      Definetely. I remember being stranded (only a couple hours) in Kansas City International because of snow. There were only a few inches on the ground, and it was relatively light by the time I got there, but all I saw clearing the tarmac was one regular truck with a plow attached. Being from Wisconsin I took for granted that any airport that might experience snow would have actual plows available.

  2. George says:

    Let’s also consider the totally unrealistic DOT fine imposed upon the hapless carrier that ‘strands’ its passengers by not getting them airborne within 3 hours of pushback: $27,500/pax X 100 pax = $2,750,000. At this rate, I’m surprised anybody operates flights in inclement weather.

    ‘Nice blog Patrick!

  3. Caz says:

    I’ve seen the Van Eyck that you mentioned in the article as well; his work was so intricate for the period that he painted in. I assume you’ve been to Antwerp to see the site of where he painted the St. Barbara? Has to be one of my favorite cities in the World…