Snow removal will no longer be a problem for the airport.
In December, the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport received a $690,000 piece of snow-removal equipment it had ordered at least one year ago.
Airport Director Devon Brubaker said the new Overaasen RS-400 Multi-Function piece of equipment was ordered after visiting with other Wyoming and Colorado airports. He said 90 percent of the purchase was paid for by a Wyoming Department of Transportation grant.
“Airport snow-removal equipment is often built to order. There are many options available on this equipment and therefore, there is not an ‘off-the-shelf’ model,” Brubaker said. “Large equipment often carries long lead times with it because manufacturers don’t want to sit on expensive inventory for long.”
Brubaker said a few years ago the Federal Aviation Administration made changes on how aircraft takeoff and landing performance is calculated based on runway surface conditions.
“This type of equipment became absolutely critical to the operation of commercial service airports,” Brubaker said. “Without a piece of equipment that can achieve bare pavement, we would be unable to meet the safety standards that the FAA requires for airlines to operate during winter conditions.”
The Overaasen has a 27-foot plow, a fifth-wheel broom and blower. The 27-foot plow pushes the snow to the side, while the 20’ 6” high-speed broom detaches any remaining snow or slush from the pavement, he said. The high-speed air blower forces the remaining contamination off of the pavement with a continuous blast of 347 mph.
The equipment is designed to operate at a fast speed, up to 35 mph, on the airport’s runways leaving a path of bare pavement behind it.
“Prior to the delivery of this equipment, it would take us 1 to 2 hours to clear snow off the main portion of the runway followed by many hours of clean-up along the edges,” Brubaker said. “This new equipment allows us to clear the airport’s 10,000 foot main runway in under 30 minutes edge to edge.”
Brubaker not only sees this purchase as a win for the airport, but the community as well.
“This single piece of equipment will allow us to keep the airport open and safe for operations in nearly all winter conditions,” Brubaker said. “Keeping the airport open allows our community, that is often isolated from the rest of the world due to winter highway closures, to remain connected to the global economy.”