The Right Tools for the Task

In a multi-million dollar project, Aeromag 2000 increased operations at its central deicing facility to provide efficient and cost-effective service to its airline customers.

The software has also enabled the company and airlines to measure operation length and evaluate time-consuming practices through a time-stamp system consisting of 13 segments — spanning from the request for service to the transfer of pilot communication back to air traffic control upon exit.

For the collection of used glycol, the facility has implemented an underground recovery network configured to collect high- and low-concentration fluids. “The underground network of pipes and drainage man holes are designed in such a way to maximize the recovery of the high concentration glycol around the aircraft spray area and the low concentration in the surrounding areas that are created by wind and engine blast,” Lepine says.

The network has yielded a retrieval ratio of 4.5 gallons for every one gallon of fluid applied. “In the industry, this is very good because at most airports, you will have more than 10 times the number of gallons applied,” he explains. “So the more used fluid picked up, more fluid to dispose — more it costs for the airline.”

To ensure there has been no glycol contamination, the company conducts periodic testing at designated points around the site.

Facility Financing
In 2005, the company took over the financing from the airport authority and secured $57 million for expansion and management of its operations.

“When we bill the airlines, we bill the airlines for the whole system — infrastructure, deicing units, and fluid … the airport authority does not get involved in billing the airlines for anything related to the deicing operation,’’ Lesperance says.

With the financing, the company replaced several of its older deicing units and increased the fleet size from 12 trucks to 20 at a cost of about $18 million. The remaining funds were allocated to the maintenance and expansion of the infrastructure, which included the extension of the warehouse by 25,000 square feet.

In addition to the trucks and warehouse space, the company introduced an online blending system to allow each deicing unit the capability of mixing the fluid according to the ambient temperature — an operation that has represented significant cost savings for the airlines.

In the past, the deicing fluid was dispensed at a concentration of 50/50, but the company found that the average weather conditions did not call for such a high concentration. Using the data transmission software, each unit has been equipped to blend according to the current temperature.

“We have installed our own weather system, calibrated by Environment Canada so we have the global temperature. Those instruments send the information to our software and our software to all the deicing units at the same time,” Lepine says. “All the deicing trucks are applying at the same moment the same concentration.

“This year the airlines will save over $2 million on type I alone,” he says.

A Concrete Plan
Though Aeromag has added trucks and technology to make deicing time more efficient, the company has found it difficult to keep pace with airport growth, especially the increased occurrence of wide-body aircraft in the evening.

“The growth of the airport is a lot faster than anticipated by the airport authorities. Two years ago they were forecasting the actual traffic that we have now, they were forecasting that in 2012. So we’re basically three to four years ahead, and with mostly wide-body aircraft in the evening that will be the trigger to expand,” Lesperance says.

“We discussed with our partners, before adding concrete we shall add more trucks,” Lepine says. “Before it was two trucks per aircraft and now we have four, five, six trucks per aircraft so the pure deicing time is accelerated. But now whatever we do, we could not achieve more with more trucks. So now it’s time to add concrete.”

The company has planned to add two additional bays that will give room at one time for seven aircraft including one class 6 and three class 5, or eight class 3. “We should be able to go until 2020 with the forecasted traffic,” Lepine says.

Along with the additional concrete, Aeromag has turned an environmentally conscious eye toward its glycol use. The company has been planning to implement a fluid recycling program, which would allow for the reuse of glycol.

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