HOUSTON — Winter is coming.
Sure, it will never get as bad as Chicago, but at Bush Airport United Airlines doesn't take any chances. When Houston's summer turns to fall, United ramp workers know it's time to prep.
"If you haven't done it in six months, it's difficult to get that swing down," said Jim Decker, Senior Manager of Ramp Operations for United Airlines."
De-icing is almost an art. Training starts in the classroom, but only gets real when you're in a basket 80 feet in the air.
"It's a critical part of the operation and the day to day planning," said Decker.
KHOU got an up close look at that training Wednesday. Crews use water to practice. They only start using glycol when temperatures dip. Chicago starts prepping in July. Houston started in August.
"Exact same thing they do in Chicago, Newark, D.C., we do here in Houston," said Decker.
Houston obviously de-ices planes far less often. But it happens. Last year United Airlines started using de-icing equipment on November 13th, the earliest start in Bush Airport history.
And in 2017, United used more than 46,000 gallons of liquid on about 200+ aircraft.
In Chicago, United used nearly 900,000 gallons last year.
"Here it's mainly frost," said Decker.
It takes technique. It's usually five to seven minutes for a team of two trucks to get the frost off here in Houston. Up to 35 minutes if crews are dealing with snow and ice.
IAH rarely deals with that. But United has 200 people trained here in Houston just in case.
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