The Havre City-County Airport got some new snow removal equipment last Thursday, and it appears just in the nick of time.
At the airport less than a week, it is already being put to thorough use.
After removing Tuesday’s snow, there is still a half-inch of ice on the runway that is stopping flights from being able to land. A test of the runways must be above a 25 on a scale of slickness before flights can land safely.
At 5 a.m., the tests gave a 23, so the 6 a.m. flight to Denver was cancelled, and its passengers reservations moved to the afternoon.
Since that reading, the airport staff has been using the equipment's many functions to clear what they can.
The new Cat 938H machine arrived with numerous attachments for various snow removal purposes: a blade with a wing attachment on the side, a broom and a snow blower with its own separate diesel engine.
The new machine has replaced the old Ford truck the airport operations and maintenance crews used to use. And the crews, including this morning’s snow remover Justin Whiteford, are quite happy with the change.
“It’s a lot easier than the old ones,” Whiteford said. “It’s like a brand new Ferrari.”
Whiteford said the machine is a lot quieter than the old one, which was deafening.
The machine’s functions are computerized, changing the engine’s function as it deems necessary.
Jim Lyons, the airport manager, said that the dealer they bought it from was able to log in over the Internet and check on how the machine is doing remotely.
“He said he could tell every time in the day this guy was taking a break to relieve himself based on the regularity of it idling,” Lyons said.
The new machine and its add-ons cost $348,809, which Lyons said was mostly paid for by federal airport grants. But, he says, it is completely worth it.
“For us to go out and do our job, in a comfortable and safe environment, with this new technology, can’t even compare,” Lyons said.