Glycol Recovery in the Golden Horseshoe

Air Canada Airlines leads the way in aircraft deicing fluid (ADF) managment in North America, reports Karen Reinhardt.


Johnstone used the example of Ottawa International Airport, where a system was recently installed to illustrate how savings are generated. In an average season, Air Canada will dispense 750,000 liters of ready-to-use deicing fluid at this station. Of this volume, about 325,000 liters are water. “Our transportation fees are five cents per liter right now. By purchasing a neat deicing product that Dow had available, we’re saving around $16,000 in transportation fees alone,” says Johnstone.

“Buying a neat deicing product offers even more ways to save,” adds Johnstone. The deicing fluid manufacturers have prepared a set of data charts called LOUT tables. LOUT, or lowest operational use temperatures, specify the level of deicing agent in the mix required to safely deice an aircraft at various temperatures. “Rather than deicing as if it’s minus 33 degrees Centigrade all the time, we’re deicing based on what is needed,” he says.

An analysis of the weather patterns for Ottawa showed a 20 to 25 percent reduction in deicing fluid consumption was achievable by taking into account outside ambient temperatures [OAT] at the time of flight operations in Ottawa.

“A 20 percent reduction in total consumption is 150,000 liters. Even if we take a minimal chemical fee of one dollar per liter, we’re saving $150,000 a year,” says Johnstone. “For the low capital investment required for this system, the decision is a no brainer, and a system-wide roll out is underway.”

MAN YOUR STATIONS

At present, Air Canada operates seven blending stations throughout Canada including Halifax, St. John, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton. During the summer, there is an average of two to four employees at each station. In the winter months, November until the end of May, that number usually increases to eighteen.

The first station in Canada to install the GlycolPro™ was Calgary. The local carrier consortium was looking for ways to reduce costs associated with the 1.5 to 2 million liters of ready-to-use ADF sprayed per season at the airport. Fluid blending equipment was the solution. “We were quite interested in fluid blending because of the potential savings,” says Ian Anderson, manager, ground icing & winter operations for Calgary-based WestJet. He explains that significant savings are available on the transportation front. “We no longer have to pay to transport water,” Anderson says. “Buying neat fluid has a trickle down effect in that storage and handling costs are also reduced.”

As always, training and safety are a crucial element to any new technology. New procedures need to be carefully monitored. According to Johnstone, next season, after the learning process has fully taken hold, they will start aggressive blending. In doing so, Air Canada wants to be certain that personnel know what is required. For the highest possible efficiency, glycol concentration levels need to be monitored closely to be safe yet still meet the preferred LOUT (lowest operational use temperature.) “We plan to install truck-mounted

in line refractometers that give a reading of the glycol concentration level. This way the operators know what is required and what they are dispensing, Johnstone says. “Our standard practice is to err on the side of safety.”

To enhance the safety procedures, “Glycol Mitigation Plans” have been installed at all major Canadian airports which subsume qualified deicers, number of deicing trucks, type of tanks and the standards required. The mitigation plans are required as part of a government monitoring system to Transport Canada. The impact of this new equipment and deicing program management will impact positively on the “Glycol Mitigation Plans.” The plans detail specific ways that current environmental legislation will be followed. Airport authorities manage the plans, but the carriers are all signatories.

“Air Canada, WestJet and other Canadian carriers operate under two pieces of strict federal legislation that have a significant impact on how we deice our aircraft,” says Johnstone. “CEPA, or the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the Fisheries Act both make specific demands of how the runoff from deicing operations must be controlled.”

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