Chester County Airport

For this month’s spotlight we spoke with Gary Hudson, Airport Manager, and Douglas Eadline, Airport Maintenance/Safety Supervisor, at the Chester County/G.O. Carlson airport located in Coatesville, PA.

Q: Tell us about the Chester County airport.
The Chester County Airport (CCA) is designed to handle just about any corporate business aircraft. CCA features a 5400ft. x 100ft grooved runway, full parallel taxiway, ILS & GPS approaches and a 48,000 dual gear capacity. As a class C-II reliever airport we have a strong Pennsylvania position in the Delaware Valley Regional Aviation System, and are a major part of the 2020 Airport System Plan for the Southeast United States. Our state of the art terminal complex is the home of a first class FBO, an outstanding flight school, and the Flying Machine Café. The terminal building is a favorite place for passengers, crew, and pilots to relax, consult flight planning services, and enjoy a cup of complimentary coffee.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your background and how that prepared you for your present positions at the airport?
Gary: I received a B.S. degree in aeronautical studies management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I have been working in the airport management industry for close to 25 years. After graduating, I took a position as Assistant Airport Manager at College Park Airport where I oversaw all of the daily operations of the airport. After three years I took a position as Airport Certification Specialist at Sikorsky Memorial Airport, where I was in charge of all aspects of airport safety operations, including conducting SISA training and making sure all technicians were training compliant. I then took a position as Airport Operations/Safety Supervisor at Trenton/Mercer Airport. My responsibilities included assuring all runway and taxiway operations were fully compliant with Federal Aviation Regulations. I was also the Snow Boss, assuring all runway sweeping operations were compliant. Now, as Airport Manager at Chester County Airport, where I have been since 2004, I am in charge of all airport operations, including security, safety, administration, runway and taxiway sweeping Snow Boss, and making sure our aircraft tenants comply with all Airport Minimum Standards and Rules and Regulations.
Doug: I majored in electrical engineering at Penn State University; I then worked in the automotive repair industry for a number of years until I purchased my own business. In 1985 I got my pilot’s license. In 1990 I closed my business and went to work at the Chester County Airport as the maintenance supervisor. All of my life experiences prepared me to maintain the airport and manage all maintenance operations, including power sweeping our runways as well as using our sweeping equipment for snow removal which, being located in PA, is a major concern during the cold winters.

Q: Can you tell us a little about the workforce team?
We have a staff consisting of an airport maintenance-safety supervisor, 2 airport maintenance workers and 1 part time seasonal airport maintenance worker. All of us attend airport snow removal training once a year. Part of that training is the suggested use of powered snow brooms in runway snow removal. With that training and the owner’s manual we know what speeds to operate the equipment per the snow conditions. We run drills and practice for storms. After a storm, we review how we responded and make sure we followed all of guidelines successfully. The philosophy at the snow symposium is that the broom should be the first piece of equipment on the runway during a storm and the last piece in after the storm.

Q: Can you tell us about the sweeping operations at the airport?
The Chester County Area Airport Authority (CCAAA) purchased a used runway power sweeper in 2006 and has been using that piece of equipment to remove contaminants (FOD, snow, ice, water) from the runway during regular operations. The airport maintenance staff uses the 1980 Sweepster Broom, Modal 2600 on a regular basis. The 2600 is equipped with a 17 foot broom head. We attended the Aviation snow symposium and took classes in effective snow broom use. The used broom was a challenge to maintain from the start. We used it until we replaced it with a larger, newer model.
Q: Tell us about the day-to-day operations implemented to ensure that all of the runways are clear of debris and operational.
We have developed/implemented an Airport Daily Inspection program. The plan enables our airport maintenance staff to identify the location of any foreign object debris (FOD) material and remove it (by hand, broom or runway sweeper) in a timely manner. FOD is a major problem facing all airports. In fact, FOD-related issues costs the industry tens of millions of dollars. Our inspection program follows Federal Aviation Association (FAA) guidelines, in particular FAR Part 139, Section 327 – Self Inspection Program. According to the FAA guidelines, all paved surfaces such as runways need to be maintained in a condition to provide good friction characteristics and low rolling resistance for all aircraft liftoffs and landings. Snow, slush, ice, standing water, mud, dust, sand, oil, rubber deposits and other contaminants need be removed as rapidly and completely as possible to minimize accumulation. When working on the runways and other paved surfaces that need to be cleared of debris or snow, our process is to work in teams, who are in two way communication at all times. Planes are taking off and landing all day long and that means our runways and taxiways needs to be constantly maintained. This keeps our sweeping and maintenance teams continuously busy.
Some airports outsource their power sweeping needs, but because of the immediacy of addressing FOD on runways and unexpected snow storms, we decided that it was more effective to have an in-house sweeping operation because it is available any time we need it. So, even though we only have one sweeper, we use it on a regular basis. We also use the Sweepster to sweep up construction debris. Recently we received a floor machine that we use to maintain pervious asphalt. The local conservation district is requiring less impervious parking areas and more pervious asphalt surfaces. Pervious asphalt requires wet brooming and vacuuming to keep the pours open. The floor machine is manufactured by Advanced Equipment.

Q: What differences and/or problems, in your opinion, do you find about running a sweeping operation at an airport, as compared to typical industrial/commercial power sweeping operations?
Once major difference between a sweeping operation at an airport and a commercial sweeping company is the presence of FOD on runway surfaces, and how to deal with it. Another is the fact that we need to be aware of, and follow, all regulations set out by the FAA. For example, we remove snow contamination from the runway by sweeping it off to the side. Commercial sweeping, like street sweeping, sweeps up debris and usually vacuums it up. Powered brooms on construction sites occasionally sweep dirt off to the side. Our construction broom is setup with a bucket behind it so that the debris is swept into and then dumped into our truck where we cart it away and dispose of it safely.

Q: What are the most challenging aspects of your operation? How do you deal with them?
The biggest challenge to our sweeping operation is the wear of the broom bristles. We try to monitor the bristles and we always keep a spare set in stock. We have had to replace them between storms. Some airports use steel bristles, we use a mixture of steel and poly bristles.
You can find out more about CCA operations by visiting:

Story by Mark Joseph Manion