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CVG Ops Team is Ready for Winter

Cassie Kiser / CVG Airport / December 2022

Our Winter Ops team is ready for snow. The team has been practicing winter weather drills since October and will continue to run them until we get our first winter weather event. The drills are practiced every Wednesday morning and night.

To start the practice run, the team gathers in a large room and gets briefed on the mock winter weather conditions of the day. The Winter Ops Lead gives the crew ample time to answer any questions before they all head outside and climb into their snow-fighting vehicles. The drills usually run about an hour and a half but the actual shift for a winter weather event can run about 13 hours or more. The operation is very organized, and the Winter Ops team knows the specific roles they have.

The Winter Ops Lead drives a pickup truck and goes out of the gate and onto the runway first. That person stays in constant communication with the FAA tower. The Lead is evaluating the conditions of the pavement and gives reports to the team on what to expect.

The next in line are the Vammas - CVG’s main snow-fighting piece of equipment. We have nine of these mega-sized machines. The Vammas perform three actions in one: plow, sweep, and blow precipitation. The Vammas crew works like a professional game of follow the leader; whatever the person in the front does, the eight people following will do the same. The group’s goal is to stick together and move like a snake to clear all snow and ice from the runway.

Other vitally important pieces of equipment we have on the runway are typically two highspeed blowers, two sanders, one deicer, and one CFME (friction tester). Together, all the people driving the machines push all the snow, slush, and ice off the runway. Without their hard work planes would not be able to land after winter storms. They can typically clear an entire runway in under 20 minutes. That is equivalent to clearing 12 interstate lanes for approximately two miles.

Winter Operations Truck

The Winter Ops team is fueling performance via operational excellence. The team won an Honorable Mention for the 2021-22 Balchen/Post Awards for their work last winter. The award was announced at the 54th Annual International Aviation Snow Symposium in May 2022. “We had a large ice storm that really impacted our region. At the end of the event the temps dropped well below freezing for several days that made it very difficult to keep surfaces open at CVG. Our team maintained and we never had to close the airfield during that entire weeklong event,” said Matthew Gabbert, Senior Manager, Airfield Maintenance. Gabbert says we have a very good fleet of equipment to make sure CVG stays open during harsh winter weather. He says preparation is key.

“We are always training or working on something so that we are not blindsided if a winter event comes our way… (We are) always making sure that we are watching the forecasts, keeping an eye on what is going on around our airport, and making sure that staffing is not forgot about either. Employees are the most important part of Winter Ops. They need to be healthy and prepared before a winter operation is upon us.”

We have around 100 crew members on our Winter Ops team. Working on the Winter Ops team is a good way to get started in the aviation industry. If you’d like to join the CVG snow team, job openings are expected to open in fall of 2023.

Winter Operations Truck