De-icing areas and aircraft
Even under severe winter conditions, the airport operator Flughafengesellschaft Berlin Brandenburg GmbH and its service partners ensure that aircraft can take off and land safely.
In the winter, aircraft have to be cleared of snow, ice and frost before take-off as otherwise the aircraft’s ability to generate lift is degraded which has a significant negative impact on its aerodynamic characteristics. The pilot is responsible for deciding whether the aircraft is to be de-iced or not.
Uniform standards apply to all de-icing procedures. First, snow and ice are removed from all the aircraft’s surfaces. In the next step, the engines are sprayed with special anti-icing fluids to protect them against the formation of new ice for a certain period of time.
The most commonly used de-icing fluids contain propylene glycol which is classed as being slightly hazardous for water. Excess de-icing fluid drips off the aircraft and is mixed with rainwater runoff. This mixture of de-icing fluid and rainwater is biodegradable and is purified in ground filters. Only if the specified discharge values are not exceeded is the water discharged into the water channels; otherwise, the mixture is discharged into the treatment plant.
The condition of the runways and taxiways are permanently monitored with the aid of an ice early warning system and controlled by special test and measurement vehicles.
In the event of snowfall, mechanical clearing is always given preference over the chemical treatment of the affected areas. If the use of de-icing fluids cannot be avoided, then care is taken to use as little as necessary after mechanical clearing has taken place. If temperatures below freezing point are expected then cleared areas may also be treated with de-icing fluids as a preventive measure.
The fluids used for de-icing areas are carefully selected according to the operating requirements and environmental compatibility. The airport currently uses sodium and potassium formates, which are classed as being slightly hazardous for water and are easily biodegradable. De-icing salt is not used on the airport operating areas. The use of all de-icing compounds at the airport is fully documented.