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Sudbury airport debuts snow removal equipment

New ploughs will help keep airport runways safe, traffic flowing

One wouldn't think snow ploughs would be critical to a business, but it means the difference between shutting down or continuing with operations at the Greater Sudbury Airport.

The Sudbury Airport Community Development Corporation showed off two new pieces of equipment that will make the runways clear and safe for aircraft as a snow storm dumped eight inches on the facility, Nov. 27.

Airport CEO Todd Tripp announced the acquisition of an ATI Snow Mauler with a cradle broom and plough, and an Eagle‐CLAAS Xerion 5000 tractor to clear snow off the airport's runways and apron.

It is fitting a snow storm would hit the airport, he said, as he gave invited guests a chance to see how the equipment would benefit airport operations and make the facility a more attractive for travellers and for business investment.

"This will keep the airport running efficiently, and most important, safely,” he said. “This is brand new technology for us at the airport and for Sudbury, and will allow us to remain open in all different weather events.”

He added this will allow the airport to meet new Transport Canada regulations for snow removal on runways when they are released.

The new equipment is also more efficient and is less impactful on the environment.

The Eagle CLAAS Xerion is a 650-horsepower tractor with a 20-foot blade on the front.

Both pieces, worth $2 million combined, were purchased using airport revenue.

Tripp said normally, it would take the airport up to three hours and three pieces of current equipment to clear the runways. The new tractor was deployed earlier that day, clearing the runways and apron in 50 minutes.

The Snow Mauler offers three pieces of equipment on one unit that work together, a plough, broom and blower.

Tripp said it would allow the airport to clear snow efficiently and was being put into service that day.

These will make the airport that much more attractive an option for travellers coming and going from the city, as well as aviation companies looking to establish new ties.

Two companies, Executive Aviation and Air Bravo, recently announced the joint purchase of a 20,000-square-foot hangar at the airport.

Air Bravo provides on-demand air charter and medevac services for the Ontario government, private insurance companies and the mining industry in a coverage area that includes Northern Ontario, Quebec and Labrador. The company maintains bases in Thunder Bay and Barrie.

Executive Aviation provides ground and maintenance services at airports in London, Hamilton, Windsor, Waterloo, Sault Ste. Marie and North Bay.

The company also offers high-end, private passenger terminals that cater to charter, corporate and private aircraft passengers and flight crews.

Tripp said this new venture is exactly why the airport needs to have fast snow-clearing.

Todd Cochrane, an airport board director, said this allow for the expansion of operations with the greater ability to handle inclement weather. 

“This keeps our travellers moving, delays cost them time and money,” he said. “By keeping travel moving, that will make them want to come back and keep using the airport as their choice of transportation.”