Cooperating in the Battle Against Snow and Ice: Four New Sweeper-Blowers at Schönefeld and Tegel


After the Winter Is Before the Winter

Even though a look through the window right now may promise a Golden Autumn, the winter flight schedule officially begins on 26 October. Wintry weather will presumably not be far behind. Regardless of when winter actually arrives, Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH and its partners will once again have made the best possible preparations to deal with inclement weather. Among other measures, four new vehicles for the runway fleet have been purchased this year.

De-icing, gritting, clearing — winter service when ice and snow are on the ground is an obviously necessary job for many. However, a lot has to be done ahead of time. Service personnel at the airport begin to think about the winter while others are still enjoying the warmth of summer. Preparations for the winter service have been moving ahead at top speed since the middle of the year. If everything is to run smoothly when winter arrives, personnel and vehicle fleet must be ready to handle whatever weather conditions may occur.

Well prepared for the winter season 2014/2015

Along with the organisational planning of the winter service, the assignment, instruction and training of the personnel are the top priorities for the Airport Company. Associates’ knowledge of the winter service regulations is refreshed, and they practice handling the special vehicles. Moreover, material and technical equipment must be provided well in advance of need. The de-icing and gritting materials are ordered and stored, the vehicles and equipment are inspected and serviced and a supply of winter diesel is stockpiled.

Associates at GlobeGround Berlin GmbH & Co. KG also make advance preparations for their assignments during the coming winter. New associates go through a training programme lasting seven days; the refresher courses on aircraft de-icing take two days. A de-icing simulator is put to good use during the practical training module and for refresher courses.

Partners work hand in hand

As a matter of principle, work in all areas at the airport is done in close cooperation among all of the companies. This is especially true for the winter service. The airport operating company is responsible for clearing away the movement areas and keeps the runways, taxiways, aprons, service roads and all of the roads and paths on the landside free of snow and ice. GlobeGround Berlin is responsible for de-icing the aircraft at both locations. In recent years, a central de-icing coordination office has been set up in the Airport Control Centers (ACC) at Schönefeld and Tegel; this is where all of the central airport processes are steered and monitored. This concept has proved its value and so it will be maintained in this form in the future as well.

Four new sweeper-blowers in operation at the airports/Figures, data and facts about the winter service

A total of around 300 associates work for the winter service at the two locations.

  • About 150 of them from the Airport Company are scheduled to take part in movement area clearance and de-icing.
  • About 150 of them from GlobeGround Berlin are scheduled for aircraft de-icing, and associates are constantly being sent to subsequent training programmes.
  • The Airport Company associates are equipped with CityRuf pagers and on stand-by so that they can be called into service any time they are needed.

A total of about 150 large clearing vehicles from the Airport Company are in use at Schönefeld and Tegel.

  • They include large-area gritters and sweeper-blower vehicles.
  • Four new sweeper-blower vehicles have been procured this year for the runway fleet; they will be shared by the two sites as needed.
  • Two 6-cylinder engines, each with 428 hp, 11,950 cm³, 2,000 Nm provide the required clearance performance on the movement areas.
  • The snowplough itself has a width of 7.2 metres and weighs 2.7 tonnes.

Area to be cleared the size of 650 football fields/Details about the area for de-icing by the Airport Company:

  • Movement area to be cleared at TXL: 130 hectares (≙ equal to the size of about 180 football fields)
  • Movement area to be cleared at SXF and BER: 340 hectares (≙ equal to the size of about 470 football fields)
  • Gritting material used: calcium formate in granulate and fluid form (chemical substances, so-called formates, based on formic acid), expanded shale/sand
  • Redundancy assured by two suppliers, orders possible 24/7, subsequent delivery within 48 hours contractually guaranteed
  • Example of consumption of de-icing material in 2013: about 1,300 tonnes of solids and 1,700 tonnes of fluid
  • Duration of de-icing process (one runway): approx. 30 minutes (very much dependent on weather conditions)

Gritting material used in one process: two gritters (approx. 12 tonnes of liquid, 6 tonnes of solid materials)

Aircraft de-icing by GlobeGround Berlin

  • A total of 21 de-icing vehicles (Vestergaard Elephant Beta and Gamma models) are ready for service, fifteen of them stationed at Tegel, six at Schönefeld.
  • The vehicles are serviced and maintained service-ready by specially trained associates in the company’s own workshops.
  • The duration of the de-icing process depends on the aircraft size, weather conditions and type of de-icing involved. On average, standard aircraft de-icing takes between 10 and 20 minutes.
  • Depending on the weather, precipitation and type of aircraft, approx. 150 litres of ADF (aircraft de-icing fluid) can suffice. In the case of heavy snow, however, several thousand litres of de-icing fluid may be required.
  • Very environmentally friendly because biodegradable
  • Operative ADF storage capacity (nominal capacity of storage and
    vehicle tanks): over 750,000 litres at both locations
  • At Tegel a total of 274,300 litres; at Schönefeld, a total of 480,000 litres
  • Capacity of the emergency storage in Berlin: 500,000 litres
  • Considerable own quantities of ADF are stored at the interim storage in Schkopau (Saxony-Anhalt).

Service information for passengers

In inclement weather conditions, passengers should allow more time for travelling to the airport and for waiting at the airport; they should enquire about current conditions at the airports and the status of their flights in good time before leaving home.

Passengers can obtain information about their flight from the airline or their tour operator. Passengers can obtain information and enquire about the current status of their flights around the clock by logging on to, by iPhone or Android app, by calling airport information at +49 30 60912 1150 or on Twitter (@berlinairport).

Snow and ice are the greatest enemies of all transport systems; it is impossible to exclude the risks of restrictions and delays. The Airport Company asks affected passengers to accept such exceptional situations with equanimity and to remain courteous to the associates on the site.

Editorial information

A recent photo of the new winter service vehicles can be downloaded here. 

Spokesman Lars Wagner

Lars Wagner Head of the Press Office / Spokesman
Berlin Brandenburg Airport

+49 30 6091-70100 +49 30 6091-70070


Yvonne Post Press office
GlobeGround Berlin GmbH

+49 30 6091 75205