YOU CAN’T CONTROL THE WEATHER…

For any Air Traffic Control Sqn, arriving to an airfield covered in snow will always provide a day jam-packed with challenges.

Until the first controller arrives and completes an Airfield Inspection, the state of the runway and manoeuvring area will always be unknown.  More often than not, despite the best efforts to clear the snow and the use of chemicals to stop ice forming, a significant decision has to be made. Carefully balancing the necessity to ensure the safety of the aircraft and all airfield users with the need to fulfil key operational sorties.

Working closely with ASMT, Stn Ops and the DCF, the ultimate goal is to get aircraft up and down safely. This requires a fair amount of liaison and ongoing protection of the operating surface. Unwanted transits across the airfield can compact any remaining snow/ice and exacerbate the issue when trying to clear it. Certain mitigations are put in place to try and open up the airfield to as much operational output
as possible; including specific taxiway routes and restricting the width of available runway, known commonly as ‘Centreline Ops’.

It is thanks to the effort, determination and desire to deliver that, despite looking somewhat unlikely at the start of the day, as a unit we managed to achieve the key sorties required. Across RAF Leeming the combined effort to achieve this cannot be understated. When you see the cold, icy figures of 2 SNCO Air Traffic Controllers trudging across the airfield with shovel and broom in hand, clearing the last taxiway of ice and snow, we can assure ourselves that we have done everything within our power to get the job done.