Winter means airport teams and machines are prepared to tackle snow removal

Thanks to significant and consistent snow accumulation, Aspen is known for its beautiful landscape and world class skiing and snowboarding. To make sure people can reach these pristine places, the airport has an excellent and skilled team proficient in effectively removing snow with advanced equipment that meet FAA regulations. Our team helps to keep the airport open for arriving and departing passengers.

The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport receives, on average, 218 inches (18.16 feet) of snow each year. Our teams clear snow from a large footprint on the airside — 3,835,028 sq. ft. of airfield pavement and 533,067 sq. ft. of public access pavement. The airside pavement is enough to build a 1-foot wide sidewalk from Chicago to New York City or a 3-foot wide sidewalk from Grand Junction to Denver! So, how does the airport do that? The pavement is sectioned off into priority areas to help guide the work. For example, the runway and taxiway are Priority 1 areas, the commercial and GA aprons are Priority 2 areas, and the north GA ramp is a Priority 3 area. In addition, clearing a path for emergency response equipment to priority areas at all times is paramount.

The airport utilizes a variety of specialized heavy equipment to remove snow, some of which are listed below:

  • 3 large Rotary Plows to blow snow piled by larger Caterpillar Loaders
  • 3 large Front End Loaders
  • 2 Smaller Front End Loaders
  • 5 Runway Brooms
  • 2 Combo Chemical Trucks for moving snow and applying deicing and anti-icing agents to the pavement surfaces
  • 1 Skid Steer (equipped with a snow blade, snow bucket, snow broom and snow blower)
  • 1 Dump Truck Chemical Spreader 
  • 1 New Holland Tractor equipped with a Runway Light Cleaner implement
  • 6 pick up trucks equipped with Boss Plows
  • 1 Prinoth Bison Snow Cat for maintenance of our snow storage, Runway and Taxiway safety areas
  • 1 Dynatest Friction Tester for constant evaluation of pavement surfaces
  • A snow shovel for every person on the Team

The number and type of equipment eligible for purchase is based on a formula developed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This formula uses a combination of variables including: the required time allowed for snow removal, average annual snowfall, and the square footage of pavement to be cleared based on Priority Area. In addition to the airfield, the airport team also removes snow from the vehicle parking areas and the terminal roadways.

To ensure all members of the snow removal team can perform these tasks safely and effectively, meet FAA snow removal and surface condition regulations, all while operating on an active airfield, they attend an annual week long snow training/refresher course. This course covers items such as equipment familiarization, air traffic control communications, surface treatment applications, airfield condition update protocols, and runway friction testing and measurement. 

The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport snow removal team is known as one of the best in the industry for their ability to maintain a safe airfield during winter weather conditions. The airport receives numerous accolades from aircraft operators for the exceptional condition of the airfield during winter operational conditions. 

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