Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – February break is just around the corner and lots of Central New Yorkers have plans to fly out of the Salt City. And those who do, may have to sit through the de-icing process as crews work to clear the airplane for flight.
As time-consuming as the process is in cities associated with snow and cold, airplanes simply can’t get airborne with ice on the wings.
Known by the pilots as “icemen,” airport workers blast planes with glycol mixtures to melt ice away and keep it from reforming.
“That’s so when the airplane takes off, it is aerodynamically clean and has to be the same every single time,” said US Airways Station Manager John Walsh.
Arthur Fennhahn is one of the most experienced “icemen” in the business. He’s been de-icing planes since 1983. Fennhahn is on the tarmac nearly every day starting at 4 a.m.
“The planes can’t leave unless they’re a clean aircraft,” he said. “So they have to be clean like a summer day.”
Though winter is far from over, US Airways has already de-iced more than 405 planes at Hancock International Airport.
With the experience they can expect from workers in Syracuse, pilots hold them to a high standard.
“The stations are well prepared with equipment and man power to help us get through this de-icing process. So in a place like this, we would expect minimal delays,” said Hartley LeRoy, a US Airways pilot.
While other airports may have one de-icing truck, US Airways alone has four at Hancock.
In heavy snow, they can have two trucks de-icing one plane.
US Airways has already used more than 70,000 gallons of the de-icing fluids at Hancock Airport.