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Simulator Helps Airport Snow-Removal Crews Prepare for Real ThingAired December 22, 2000 - 2:45 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Two years ago, a blizzard crippled air travel at a busy airport in the Midwest, that's Detroit Metropolitan. And that blizzard taught airport officials a very valuable lesson. Now they've got a new system of snow removal in place to keep airplanes and passengers, of course, moving along on schedule.
Our CNN's Ed Garsten on that.
ED GARSTEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It looks real...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to let lined up and start my snow removal process right now.
GARSTEN: ... and feels and sounds real.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you hear right now, that's actually the blade scraping on the ground as it's plowing the snow. And you feel the vibration in the seat and in the steering wheel.
GARSTEN: It's all a computerized rehearsal for the big one, the type of snowfall like the one that fell New Year's weekend, 1999. The storm crippled Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. Thousands of travelers were stranded when a slow response to the storm left runways snow-covered, grounding dozens of aircraft for hours, with no place for them to go.
To help avoid a repeat, the airport spent more than $200,000 for this, the AP-2000, a snow-plow simulator set up with a computer- generated replica of the airport. The goal: to speed the training of new plow operators and sharpen the skills of veterans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With a simulator, if you want it to be snowing in July so you can practice snow removal then and get your troops ready before the big snows hit, you can do it in July.
GARSTEN: The AP-2000 can simulate all sorts of situations, from blizzards to nighttime snow removal. The simulator trains operators in a wide range of modern snow-moving vehicles, from the simple plow to the high-tech, Rube Goldberg-like Vammus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can plow snow, broom snow and blow it all off, which replaces three of these vehicles behind me. GARSTEN: There's also an articulator, which actually eats snow and spits it out, and a broom for sweeping aside thin layers of snow and ice. The maintenance crews even have access to weather radar for approaching storms and a system linked to sensors that capture runway surface temperatures.
(on camera): Not only does the sophisticated gear and simulator training help contribute to removing the snow faster and keeping the planes moving, airport management says it also helps provide a safer traveling environment.
(voice-over): All this, the airport insists, will minimize ground delays and maximize the safety of takeoffs and landings to avoid a repeat of that storm disaster two years ago.
Ed Garsten, CNN, Romulus, Michigan.
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