As the airport authority, Unique (Flughafen Zurich AG) is responsible for ensuring the operability of the airport. Airline companies, passengers, airport partners, and other customers all expect a major international airport to handle air travel reliably and punctually in winter and in summer and to demonstrate high standards of quality and appearance. Concerning the maintenance of outside areas, Unique subscribes to the principle of removing debris and clearing snow immediately when it occurs. The methods and equipment used to do the cleaning fall within the domain of the Airfield Maintenance department.
Surface cleaning with sweeping machines that keeps all airside and landside surfaces clean uses a variety of large and small cleaning vehicles to complete this very complex task - including FOD problems. There is at least one cleaning device in operation between 3 a.m. and 9 p.m. 365 days per year, or available for service around the clock. For example, a first generation Jetbroom BJB 4000 from Swiss manufacturer Boschung has been used successfully in the apron area for more than 17 years. Parallel to the surface cleaning, the Airfield Maintenance team also implements the "Winter Service Plan" from November 1 through March 31. The employees are on 24-hour call for 7 days at a time and must be able to report for
duty at the airport within 1 hour of being called.
This rule applies not only to Unique's some 125 employees, but also to roughly 300 drivers of 70 trucks and special vehicles from private transport companies within the airport region, who receive intensive training prior to the onset of the winter season. In a full deployment (cleaning of all flight operation surfaces in the winter) approximately 120 employees and an equal number of machines (50 from Unique and 70 outside machines) are divided into 8 clearing teams under the overall coordination of the Airfield Maintenance department.
Concept with the Launch of the New Midfield Dock E
With the construction of the new Midfield Dock E, new taxiways and apron areas (25 % more, or 450 000 m2; in total approximately 2.5 million m2 of fortified flight operation surface), a new winter concept has been developed.This new concept is designed primarily to fulfill the following criteria:
- Faster clearing times
- Constant levels of human resources and cost
- Economic improvement of total operating costs
- Year-round use of capital equipment.
Where does the deicing water go?
Since the winter of 2001/02, all rainwater that is contaminated with deicing water from the new operating areas is cleaned using a nature-like process (irrigation). The collected water is spread with sprinklers onto a larger area approximately 20.5 hectares in size. As the water percolates into the soil, the contaminants are filtered out to below the specified discharge levels. Highly concentrated deicing water collected at the central deicing stations is returned to the Zürich-Werdhölzli treatment plant for purification. With the vehicle purchase of 6 Jetbrooms and numerous operational upgrades, the Unique Airfield Maintenance department meets the most exacting economic and ecological standards and in this area is certainly one of the leading airports in Europe.
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