Cool, calm, and collected—YFC’s winter operations

New Brunswickers know winter, but you might be surprised to hear how much goes into keeping runways safe and operational here at the Fredericton International Airport.

Keeping runways clear makes sure flights can arrive or depart safely—but that’s just one part of the information pilots use to make decisions. Factors like wind speed and direction, and the weather forecast are important too. And because planes travel between airports, they’re looking at data from multiple places because they need to consider the conditions for landing and takeoff.

Preparation before the storm

A YFC plow truck clears snow off the runway.

Winter planning at the Fredericton International Airport begins months before the first snowfall. Almost half of the airport authority’s employees are dedicated to clearing the runways in the winter. We also have two full-time mechanics who maintain our snowblowers, front end loaders, plow trucks, runway sweepers and other equipment.

More horsepower than your average machineryA red YFC snowblower shoots snow off the of runway.

Of course, our runways are a little wider than your driveway. So, airport snowblowers need more horsepower than your average machine. Our snowblowers can shoot snow up to the same length as an NHL hockey rink (200 ft).

Each storm is different and so the approach varies too. We assess each storm and choose the snow and ice removal method on a storm-by-storm basis. Work on the runway sometimes begins before the storm starts. High winds can cause snow to drift onto the runway and the apron, keeping us busy even after the storm is over.

A group effort

YFC’s winter operations team smiles for the camera in front of winter operation vehicles.

Once the runway is clear, a designated runway inspection vehicle allows us to collect data on the surface conditions.

Then we compile the data into a Global Reporting Format (GRF) report and upload it electronically. The report is available to NAV CANADA, airlines, and pilots. Pilots use this information along with weather reports to make their decisions on when it’s safe to land or take off.

Safety is our top priority, and during the winter our dedicated team works hard to keep your flights moving.