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What is “target snow removal”? Finavia’s maintenance and apron professionals describe what they do on days with abnormal snowfall

Article published
24.1.2024 at 08:15
Pyry Pennanen
People & Aviation
During winter weather and snowfall, the seamless teamwork of seasoned professionals plays a key role on the airport’s apron.

“Finavia’s role is to enable safe and smooth air traffic regardless of the season. Our goal is to ensure a safe operating environment for both aircraft and companies producing ground services on the apron,” says Anssi Väisänen, Finavia’s Apron Operations Manager for Helsinki Airport.

At Helsinki Airport, apron winter maintenance is divided into two operating models: daily maintenance and the target snow removal operating model.

“The term ‘target snow removal’ refers to the operating model for abnormal snowfall days on the apron. The professionals of Finavia’s maintenance and the apron management team cooperate with air traffic control and ground handling companies.”

In order for the target snow removal operating model to be implemented successfully, those operating at the airport must work together.

“The aircraft parking plan is drawn up about 12 hours in advance so that there will be several vacant aircraft stands on the apron next to each other. This allows our maintenance to focus its resources on this area and plough the area. After that, the aircraft turnaround process can begin.”

Aircraft stands are freed up in sections to allow maintenance professionals to sweep and plough as large an area as possible in one go. This also requires the transfer of ground equipment, which is supervised by airport marshallers.

“This showcases the seamless teamwork by the entire apron community, which is planned on a case-by-case basis according to the prevailing weather conditions. It’s a great example of how snowhow is continuously being developed,” Väisänen says.

Sweeper blowers are used for up to 800 hours during the winter season

In snowy conditions, Finavia’s maintenance is divided into two areas: the air traffic area, which includes the runways and taxiways, and the apron, which includes the aircraft stands.

“The winter equipment is in heavy use and there are many opportunities to gain experience in using it. Sweeper blowers are used for up to 800 hours during the winter season,” says Pyry Pennanen, Finavia’s Head of Airfield Maintenance for Helsinki Airport.

The working methods and patterns are made to be easily repeated. They allow Finavia to open runways, taxiways and apron areas to air traffic.

Pennanen also stresses the importance of teamwork in winter conditions.

“Only by working together can we plough and remove snow from these areas. Snowhow is meticulous and physical work, but above all it requires teamwork.”

Further reading

This is how we get through the winter at Helsinki Airport

Commentary: Snowhow is a result of the seamless cooperation of many airport actors

Learn more about the winter maintenance profession at Finavia