Columbia Regional Airport is Not Expecting to Cancel Flights

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Regional Airport is not expecting to cancel flights Tuesday. Michael Parks, the airport operations supervisor said aiport operations will be busy all day testing the runway's traction. To do it, airport operators will constantly report braking action on the runway for pilots flying in. 

"Every 45 minutes we will be testing the braking action without snow," Parks said. "[With snow on the ground] we would test the braking action every five minutes."

Airport manager Don Elliott said the airport is preparing for the potential snow event which is forecast for Tuesday. Elliott said anything above 40 on the braking action monitor signifies that braking action for the pilot is great. Anything below 20 means braking action is almost non-existent. Elliott said that if braking action is almost non-existent, that still does not mean flights are cancelled. Instead, it is up to the pilot's discretion as to whether they feel experienced enough landing in winter weather. 

"Each winter weather event has its own unique set of challenges, it depends on how much, how wet," Elliott said. "Every time you go out there it's a new adventure."

He also said the ice event that occurred Friday and Saturday created quite a challenge for maintenance of the runway. He also said the airport did not expect the half inch of rain early Saturday morning. 

"The ice was able to bond to the pavement, and once it bonds it's difficult to remove," Elliott said. "We were able to open up the runway and keep the place operational."

Elliott also mentioned that to remove the ice from the runway, it took airport operations three to four hours. He said to remove the snow, it would depend on the type of snow that falls and how much would fall. 

"Dry snow we just broom it off and are able to perform that task fairly rapidly," Elliott said. "Wet snow we may have to get a plow in front of that broom truck to help move some of that heavy snow out of the way."

Elliott said because the runway is unlike a roadway, it has to be completely cleared off. He said ensuring ultimate safety at the airport means to keep constant communication between airport personnel, and the pilots. Elliott said he plans to take advantage of the Monday sunlight by clearing the ramps and the taxi-ways.