This article first appeared in the Airport Industry-News Magazine Issue 1 2023.
Managing winter operations at an airport is a big task that involves a huge joint effort between airport teams and their service partners. One of the UK’s leading service partners, Aero Mag, provides de-icing facilities at Heathrow and Manchester Airport, both of which are listed in the top twenty of Europe’s busiest airports, handling over 400,000 aircraft movements collectively throughout the year.
In winter, de-icing planes is essential for airline safety, and clear communication between airside teams and pilots is crucial. The pilot is consulted by ground-to-air communication, confirming the decision on the required treatment. Following that, de-icing trucks, most of which are single-operator vehicles, move around the aircraft, applying the product that allows an aircraft to operate safely during harsh winter conditions. The removal of frost from an aircraft takes on average three to six minutes. Safety and speed are key to the success of this operation.
“We support a fail-safe service, and we can only do this if the teams and pilots can talk to each other. Good coverage of all areas of the airfield, having the service support and general reliability throughout is imperative to our procedures.”
“If information cannot be shared in real time it can affect many elements such as security issues and possibly dangerous scenarios, whilst siloes can build and create inefficiencies.
“We were experiencing long outages with our aging radio communication system, and poor coverage. It was time to look for a new provider that could offer the support we needed. Radiocoms came highly recommended and was the best fit for Aero Mag.”
After an introductory meeting, Aero Mag was recommended DMR and airband radio communication solutions by Radiocoms for its critical communication requirements to support its airside operations at both Heathrow and later Manchester Airport.
Dependant on whether they are operating an open de-icing basket or a closed cabin, both vehicles needed to house a rugged, dependable device that offered full encryption for secure radio communication broadcasts. The demonstrations held on site highlighted the benefits the new two-way radio technology would deliver and how it could meet the requirements outlined by Aero Mag.
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