Friday, December 16, 2016

Redmond Airport is flying again: Passenger flights back on time post-snow dump

Redmond, Ore. - The Redmond Airport was bustling with travelers again Thursday, a day after all flights were canceled due to the extreme weather.

One passenger said she received text messages about her flight status, even though her flight remained on time.

The runways and taxiways have all been cleared of snow. Although the first flights of the day Thursday were canceled, the first plane took off around 9:30 a.m., with only a few minor delays since.

"We issue what are called 'NOTAMS,' a notice to the airmen, that the pilots are expected and required to check. Those NOTAMS update pilots on everything from surface conditions, weather conditions, what the contamination source is on the ground, what's been plowed, and what kind of de-icers have been applied," said Aviation Program Manager Nettice Honn. "Any pilots flying in and out of the area are well informed as to the conditions here on the ground."

The individual airlines decide whether it is safe enough for their planes to land or take off, and ultimately, the pilot in command makes the final flight decision.

The Redmond Airport is tasked with keeping the runways clear and safe for the planes to land or take off. Each airline is also responsible for de-icing their own planes.

"We began shifts at 3 a.m. yesterday (Wednesday) morning, prior to the actual snowfall," Honn said. "We were laying down de-icer and clearing the pavement, [continuing] through the weather event, just keeping up on the pavement, so as the visibility improved the aircraft could come in and land."

Horizon Air RDM Customer Service Manager Jim Cook said the biggest danger to planes from extreme weather is from the conditions on the ground, not in the air.

"The aircraft is designed to fly in cold temperatures and precipitation, so while there is some risk in the air, it is very minimal," Cook said. "The real risk is on the ground, [because] the aircraft has to be free of contamination prior to the take-off."

Several passengers said their airline had given them plenty of notice on their cancellation status Wednesday, though many had to wait a full day until they could jump onto another outbound flight. However, most passengers remained patient and understood the violent nature of the storm. Overall, a positive attitude was kept by many travelers.

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