The blizzard that walloped the upper Midwest earlier this month – across Wyoming, South Dakota and parts of Nebraska – dumped more than three feet of snow in some parts, stranded passengers and shuttered a number of airports.
It also serves as a wake-up call to any operators that may not have completed their winter preparations. While the intensity of the early October storm took many by surprise, snowfalls and wintery mix (as the meteorologists call it) are not unexpected in many northern climes even this early in the fall.
One check that I find is frequently overlooked is the condition of tires on airport equipment, especially any equipment that operates in close proximity to aircraft. One of my check items on airport audits that I perform includes looking at the tire condition. Just last week, I was conducting an audit in New England and found a number of tires on tow tractors that were worn, but not worn out.
While these tires would have had additional useful life in good weather, they present a risk when towing aircraft in snowy or icy conditions. While it is expensive to replace tires that still have useful life, the alternative could cause substantial aircraft damage, if the tires lose traction and cause the equipment to collide with an aircraft or even other equipment.
So while it can be difficult to justify this expense, especially for small operators, the consequences can be significantly more expensive.