Snowy runways


Driving past KHYR this morning I noticed how snow covered the runways are. They have been plowed but are not bare or dry.
Got me to thinking about take-off and landing on a snow covered runway.
Are there different precautions? Jets handle differently then props? The area I live up here does get some pretty serious corporate traffic from time to time although it does slow down during our winters.

I have not piloted an aircraft since the mid-70’s and have never been in a small aircraft landing in/on snow.



While I can’t answer your question based in the deep south, I have a friend based in MLI / DBQ that has shared some wild “taxiing” and runup stories / experiences on snowy / black ice that I can’t fathom myself having very limited cold weather operations.

Also, he shared plenty of stories just getting the plane out of a hangar onto a snow plowed ramp and getting good footing pulling and pushing over that area that seems to have a small buildup of snow from plow operations had me in hysterics.

Be interesting to read what others post.


Snow? Is that the white stuff I see on TV once in a while?

John in Saudi


As ops supervisor at a snowy airport, I can tell you there are two different things important to aircraft when it comes to snow, depth and braking action. Most light aircraft can operate in 1 to 2 inches of loose snow fairly easily. Any more than that it adds signifcant drag which can make takeoff difficult or impossible, or damage gear, props, etc. It can also matter if it is an even snow cover, or drifts which feel like speed bumps as you go over or through them.

The second, braking action, is pretty obvious. If a snow or ice covered runway is slick, you can’t stop or turn. Airports report braking action by NOTAM in either Good, Fair, Poor, Bad, or by numerical values of MU which are measured by electronic devices. If we have poor or bad breaking actions, we will sand the runway to (hopefully) increase friction.


I land at a lot snowy runways.

David hit the nail on the head, I know of a certain -35 that took off in a snow storm at a NE airport. the right side of the runway was plowed. the PF lost sight of the plowed side and drifted into the unploughed side, aborted the take-off and when they stopped fodded out #1 with snow intake.

The sad part is the snow was also sanded, so now that -35 is down for 10+ days while the motor is sent back to honeywell


We have also had a GIV FOD both engines due to engaging the TR at slow speed. They were not moving fast enough to stay ahead of the dust cloud and ingested quite a bit of sand. The incident got our hearts beating, as it was initially reported as smoke in the cabin/evacuating, and we had to ditch our snow equipment for the ARFF equipment in quite a hurry.


Thanks guys. I’m just an old wanna be that enjoys aircraft and talk about the same. Every once in a while I wonder about something that just can’t be answered unless I come here.
(that would be the disclaimer to the “google is your friend” canned response) :wink:


Different aircraft have different limitations.

I have perf charts for wet, &/or contaminated runways at weights in one of our Lears that are different from the other one and both would be different from flyboy’s (part of some modifications). So I can legally operate in conditions he may not be able to. It depends on many factors, packed snow, loose snow, wet and slushy is the worst.


This thread from the Great White North might shed some light on snowy runways; AvCanada


Whats a -35?


Learjet 35


Whats a -35?

Learjet 35

I thought it was mud tires. . .
sorry. . . :unamused:


Turns out both motors fried. The right side ingested more sand then the left but kept running.


…and when landing, don’t be tempted to take a high-speed turn off (or any other) until you are completely stopped.


Can’t put those on a Lear. Gotta be a Cub for those!


Without naming names, was it you?


35’s for planes and 35’s for trucks are WAY different. :laughing: I don’t think you could get much of a grip with those. . . :smiley:


Nope- but someone I work with


That is usually a Resume update maneuver.
Does this mean there is an opening? …only if you have hard days off and a schedule of course.


Myself I’ve never had an accident/incident. I have had a bout of hangar rash

This company has hard time off 2 weeks on and 1 off. BUT you work your tail off in that two weeks. Lets just say Becky isn’t happy with my job right now…
I haven’t had a month since working here where I didn’t fly less then 90 hours