Winter time at CPH

Teamwork, precision and speed in the winter time

Preparation and teamwork are key factors when the winter season begins. A sophisticated ice warning system enables the airport to be just ahead of the weather. The airport has a collaboration with the DMI (the Danish Meteorological Institute) under which an exchange of data helps ensure the airport receives weather forecasts well in advance.

For security reasons, snow and ice must be removed from aircraft immediately before departure. The airport uses specially designed vehicles called “elephants” to remove ice and snow from aircraft.

Excess liquid collected and treated
To de-ice aircraft, the “elephants” spray 80 degree-hot de-icing liquid onto the aircraft. The de-icing liquid is a mix of glycol and water which degrades quickly in nature but also contributes to oxygen depletion if discharged into the Øresund.

For this reason, de-icing takes place on specially designed platforms, and excess de-icer liquid is collected by drains and piped to tanks. The collected liquid is then transported to purification and biogas plants all over the island of Zealand, where the glycol is used as a necessary source of carbon.

The collected de-icer liquid may be diluted by precipitation that falls on the platforms during the de-icing process. If the glycol content in the liquid collected is below 5%, the airport has permission to spread the liquid on a grassy area, where natural degradation of the glycol will take place.
Easily degradable de-icing agent for runways and taxiways
Detailed weather forecasts ensure that the airport can spread runway de-icing agents on the runways and taxiways before freezing rain forms black ice on the surface. For safety reasons, ordinary road salt cannot be used at airports because it can cause corrosive damage to aircraft. Thus the airport uses a formiate-based de-icing agent that is highly biodegradable.

A runway can be cleared of snow in ten minutes
The airport can clear a runway of snow in ten minutes. Snow clearance is performed by a convoy of snow-clearing vehicles. The convoy includes a number of different vehicles such as snowploughs with sweepers, snow blowers and equipment for spreading formiate. Continuous checking of the condition of the runways and taxiways allows the airport to target its efforts in order to limit consumption of runway de-icer whilst also ensuring maximum safety for air traffic.