Cleanliness is a must

Schmidt AS 990 truck-mounted sweeper ensures safe traffic areas at Düsseldorf Airport.

Runways, taxiways and aprons are the heart of every airport. They are pulsating pacesetters and provide the basis for hundreds of aircraft movements every day. Absolute cleanliness of the surface is top priority because a jet engine – as an aircraft turbine is also called – tends to suck in any loose material in its surroundings.

Owing to strict safety precautions, so-called FOD (foreign object debris), such as pens, coins, maintenance parts, cables, tools and pieces of luggage, rarely find their way to airport traffic areas, but if they do, they pose a great risk. Damage to the engines often causes expensive flight cancellations and even more expensive repairs for the airlines, the costs of which can quickly run into the millions. Damaged engines can even cause life-threatening situations on both the landside and the airside.

Airport operators therefore make every effort to minimise the risk posed by FOD. This includes continuous training courses for the staff, in addition to technical measures, such as sweeping the aircraft stands as well as the taxiways before the machines arrive and after they have left.

Düsseldorf Airport relies on cleaning technology by Aebi Schmidt

The stands at Düsseldorf Airport are swept after every aircraft movement as well. The Schmidt AS 990 truck-mounted sweeper has made a name for itself in this area. The high-performance sweeper, which has been developed specifically for use at airports, is available with a hopper capacity of 9 m3 and exhibits an operating speed of up to 40 km/h in sweeping mode. The machine is perfectly adapted to the special requirements of airport operations, down to its sweeping width of 3.5 metres.

“The engines of the AS 990 machines almost never get cold at our airport”, reports Helmut Didschun, who is in charge of the operation of these machines at the airport. “We constantly use 2 to 3 of these airport sweepers, thereby making a valuable contribution to air safety at our airport.”

Counting more than 20 million passengers annually, Düsseldorf Airport is the third-largest airport in Germany and is regularly approached by the world’s most advanced airplane types, such as the airbus A 380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

“The runway sweepers at our airport are operated in 2 extended shifts, whereby we have achieved another increase in air safety”, Helmut Didschun reports. However, the Schmidt AS 990 not only has to deliver top performance in summer; winter also puts high demands on this machine because it has proved extremely useful when it comes to the collection of aircraft de-icing material.

Versatile in use – Schmidt AS 990 is also capable of collecting glycol

“Here at Düsseldorf Airport, we constantly switch between sweeping and glycol collection mode. The Schmidt AS 990 is the perfect machine for this purpose, since its design permits both the collection of debris and the high-performance collection of glycol. The rotary brush fitted in the suction vehicle makes it particularly easy to collect highly adhesive glycol”, Operations Manager Helmut Didschun says.

A glycol-additive-water mixture, which is highly viscous and therefore sticks to the surface, is sprayed onto the aircraft for de-icing and preventing ice deposits. Of course, the material also has this effect on the de-icing pads, which are the areas at airports where these de-icing measures are taken. In these areas, the residual glycol is collected using the Schmidt AS 990 and is discharged into specially designated disposal basins.

“The optional additional disc brushes allow for increasing the sweeping width from 2.30 metres to 3.50 metres, which we can use very effectively to increase the productivity, given the large surfaces to be cleaned”, Helmut Didschun says. “Our drivers also highly appreciate the high level of operational comfort. All relevant operating parameters are visible to the driver at a glance in the straightforward colour display of the control panel. The sweeping pattern is adjusted centrally while the brush length is displayed as well, making it possible for us to notice immediately when the brush needs to be replaced.”

This is also an important factor for Helmut Didschun and his team, given the AS 990 machines’ huge number of operating hours in Düsseldorf. “For us, the AS 990 has turned out to be the most economical model in long-term operation.”

The next time you visit Düsseldorf Airport, have a look if you can spot the sweepers from the Black Forest on the apron – the chance of you seeing a Schmidt AS 990 is quite high.