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Spotlight on our Snow Patrol: How we run our winter operation during spells of bad weather

In this section:

Like everywhere else, snow, ice and frost can be no stranger to Edinburgh Airport around this time of year.

So what better time to shine a light on our winter operations team, and the sterling work they do to keep things moving when bad weather hits.

The snow flurries of this winter may not have registered among the most dramatic we've ever seen... yet, however the team has to always be ready for whatever the Scottish weather has in-store. Between the start of November and end of March members are on-call 24/7, and short and long-term forecasts are monitored closely.

In the event there's heavy snow or thick ice on the way, a selection of 13 team members are called out - no matter the hour - to ensure runways, taxi areas and stands are clear and safe for aircraft to operate on, allowing airport operations to continue and passengers to get to where they need to be.

So who makes up the winter snow team?

There are 74 members in the winter operations team coming from different departments all across the airport - from airside support and compliance to IT, security and terminal teams.

Staff at the airport are able to sign up to join the team, and they'll be given the relevant training to ensure they can drive airside and operate the snow clearance vehicles.

Snow call out exercise

Photo: Our winter operations team taking part in a training exercise.

Of the 74 members 55 are able to drive and operate the snow trucks, 13 are trained to escort the vehicles, and six are able to take on the 'snowman' role - leading and managing the whole operation on any given day.

The 'snowman' will examine the forecast, determine whether a callout is required and if it is call out team members, ensure they are comfortable with what they're doing, and then relay the snow or ice clearance plan before the work begins.

The team will communicate with air traffic control and other colleagues working in the airside operation to ensure they've got the required time and space to clear the runway and wider airfield without aircraft coming in or departing.

While ensuring the runways and taxi areas are safe for aircraft to operate on is among the main tasks undertaken, our partners also work with us to clear stands of snow, de-ice aircraft and ensure walkways and areas used by passengers are safe.

The winter of 2022/23 hasn't quite brought with it any extreme weather just yet, however the snow team have certainly been put through their paces in recent years.

In 2020 teams spent around 11 straight hours de-icing the runway after a lengthy spell of freezing rain and ice, in 2018 the Beast from the East brought high levels of dry snowfall from February to March, and going back to 2010 the snow was so bad the snowmen had to be put up in hotels near the airport.

Beast from the East at EDI - 2018

Photo: Our teams worked hard to keep operations running during the Beast from the East in 2018

'It's great to see different teams from across the airport come together'

Andrew Glasgow, the airport's Airside Operations Resilience Manager, is leading the winter snow operation.

He said: "I always think it's great to see teams from across the airport coming together. Everyone gets on well and will help one another out - there's some really good teamwork.

"There are a few different elements to it. Of course there's the crisis management side, but there's also the staff welfare side, and there are things we do to try and help - particularly if the team are being called out at 2am."