As part of its mission to develop near-term, practical solutions to problems faced by airport operators, the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) selected Gresham Smith to provide guidance to airports that must prepare for, operate during, and recover from disruptive winter events while managing user expectations.

Winter weather conditions affect operations of airports of all sizes, and any gap in preparation can cause potential safety issues. Achieving safe operating conditions during winter events can present major challenges and costs to airports and their stakeholders. Those costs can include equipment purchases, operation and maintenance, personnel and training, infrastructure movements, planning and preparation, and lost revenue associated with temporary airport closures. Every airport must develop procedures to prepare for these circumstances based on its own unique requirements.

The guidebook we produced addresses the following components of effective winter operations plans that are adaptable to a variety of airports:

  • Operational considerations—friction, weather and other factors
  • Strategies and tactics—equipment, chemicals, drift control and other related factors
  • Operational guidelines—personnel, timing, human factors and other related issues
  • Economic and finance considerations—budget analysis, benefit-cost analysis and risk analysis
  • Environmental issues—permitting and other applicable regulations

Gresham Smith led the development of Report 123 with support from RFMarchi Aviation Consulting, Inc., Vesta Rea & Associates, and consultants Eric Tolton, Tim Anderson and Paul Sichko.

View/purchase ACRP Report 123: A Guidebook for Airport Winter Operations on the Transportation Research Board’s website


Airport Cooperative Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Transportation Research Board


Washington, D.C.

Project Type

Aviation, Stormwater