Real snow and ice!

A friend of mine who’s currently working for the British Antarctic Survey read my recent post regarding the Tarsier system and its performance in snow. So he sent me a picture he’d taken at the SkyBlu Logistics Facility.

The blue ice runway is groomed by the camp staff using commercial lightweight snow ploughs and blowers (which could be shipped in by Dash 7 aircraft). When the wind is favourable, and the conditions good, a runway 1.2 km in length and 50 m wide is possible. However, operations are often hampered by much lighter winds causing knee high snow drifts which reduce contrast. The runway is marked by flags and large colourful bin bags to improve contrast for approaching planes.

Given the fact that they’re using bin bags to improve the contrast for pilots, I think they probably have a few key items to purchase before splashing out on a FOD detection system!

SkyBlu Runway

Click to zoom

One Response to “Real snow and ice!”

  • Andy Webster says:

    The use of coloured bags is indeed true although “bin bags” is a little misleading! We use weighted tarp bags to deploy in between the regular runway flags when contrast is poor. The trick is to have something simple and quickly deployable that can be picked up and stowed away when not required. As the wiki article mentions, the key to operating the runway is snow management and anything that gets left out causes snow to drift behind and creates a lot of work in snow clearing when the weather clears up again.

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