So much attention is paid to large commercial service airports that we sometimes forget what it’s like at the hundreds of smaller airports that don’t have access to the same resources. When expensive equipment breaks down, it may not be possible to immediately get a backup, either your own or a borrowed one from someone else on the airport.
This point was brought home to me when I was visiting a medium-sized airport in New England last week – one with commercial service, but no scheduled airlines – and the airport’s one-and-only deicing truck broke down.
Fortunately, the truck deiced three aircraft before it broke down. But there was still one left to go. There was no question of skipping the deicing process – the weather clearly required it. So the question became, of course, what to do. As luck – bad luck, that is –would have it, the part that had failed was one that was only available from the manufacturer and that would take some time to replace. Even with overnight shipping it was clearly not going to arrive in time to help this operator get off the ground.
So the FBO did the only thing it could do – emptied one of its hangars of other aircraft and brought this one in to deice in the warmth of the hangar. It took a couple of hours, but the aircraft did eventually take off safely.