Deiceman Traineth

Penauille Servisair incorporates an innovative deicing training method at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Deicing training can be expensive. Training in safety, efficiency and environmental compliance to meet airport launch capabilities during varied winter weather conditions is a vital step in the aircraft deicing and anti-icing process. The development of the largest and most technically advanced deicing facility in the world in 1999 by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which is operated by Penauille Servisair, was not only a key element in Toronto Pearson's winter weather operational plans, but in ensuring safety through improved deicing technologies, communications and training.


The CDF, managed by Kelvin Williamson, Penauille Servisair General Manager, is a rather complex, automated aircraft guidance system with a facility housing the "control cab" and nearly 65 acres containing six deicing pads, each of which is divided into a staging bay and a deicing bay. Three aircraft lanes provide room for six wide-body aircraft as large as the Boeing 747 that can be deiced simultaneously or ten Airbus A320s and two Dash-8s. Penauille Servisair can deice as many as 500 aircraft in one day.

In the control cab, also dubbed the "Ice House" of the CDF, the coordination and control of flight operations is orchestrated by eight key positions (two zone deicing coordinators, pad control, operations manager, bay manager, operations support specialist and two aircraft coordinators known as the "Ice Men") whose computers are equipped with real-time weather radar information. In many ways, the responsibilities that come with orchestrating the aircraft deicing are as intricate and as important as an Air Traffic Control tower, whose primary task is to separate certain aircraft in order to prevent them from coming too close to each other horizontally and vertically.

In the Ice House, aircrafts with their number and type can be viewed en route to the CDF electronic flightstrip and their progress can be tracked using the Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE) screen. Each aircraft is allocated to an available bay and each bay usually has four deicing vehicles, allowing maximum throughput efficiency. Images of the deicing procedure are displayed and recorded for future playback on overhead monitors in the CDF cab providing a full range of visual perspectives during the deicing process.

According to Joe Forbes, GTAA Senior Manager of Deicing Operations, the act of deicing itself doesn't take much time at all. In fact, since its inception, 75,000 aircraft have been deiced at the facility, an average season being approximately 9,500. It's the deicing training where the time … and great care is taken.


Okay, not exactly. One of the more recent additions to the CDF vehicle fleet was a pair of Vestergaard Elephant Beta 15 deicing trucks that have the ability to undertake live deicing on planes (with engines running) as large as a Boeing 747 and its extended reach enables it to deice all areas of the A380 as well. Operating one of these vehicles, or even one of the 25 smaller Vestergaard Beta fleet at Toronto Pearson, is costly and can be dangerous if you don't know what you are doing.

No stranger to deicing, Kelvin Williamson, recipient of a merit award for leadership in the regional regulatory process for the Lester B. Pearson International Airport's central de-icing facility, calculated that he would save time and money by integrating the g-Force Beta Simulator into the initial and recurrent deicing training process at the CDF. "Training in the 'real thing' takes a significant amount of money," says Williamson. "The cost of fuel to keep the truck running and the wear and tear on the trucks, not to mention the fact that the deicing operators can only train on one type of aircraft … it's very inefficient."

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