ROMULUS (AP) – Federal authorities want to fine the agency that runs the Detroit Metropolitan Airport $200,000 for failure to effectively de-ice surfaces during a November 2014 storm that led to a jet sliding off a runway and three commercial airlines stranded on the deicing pad.
The Federal Aviation Administration proposed the fine on Wednesday against the Wayne County Airport Authority, which oversees operations at the airport southwest of Detroit in Romulus. The FAA said the authority failed to follow a mandated snow and ice control plan.
The FAA said that in addition to various surfaces becoming unsafe, a taxiway and deicing pad were not treated with deicer fluid. It also alleges that the authority failed to notify airlines of changing runway conditions or activate an airport “snow desk” to coordinate snow removal operations.
“One commercial jet slid off the untreated taxiway and onto the grass, and a cargo jet became stranded due to icy conditions after exiting a runway,” the FAA said in a release. “Additionally, three commercial airliners became stranded on the deicing pad for approximately three hours each due to icy pavement conditions.”
Airports Council International ranked the airport 18th in North America and 51st internationally in its 2014 North American Airport Traffic Summary. More than 31.5 million passengers went through the airport last year.
FAA representatives met in January 2014 with the airport authority regarding concerns over winter operations at the airport. That May, the authority was issued a warning letter for failing to comply with the snow and ice control plan during a February 2014 storm.
The airport authority has 30 days to respond to the FAA’s most recent allegations.
The airport authority in a statement Wednesday described the Feb. 5, 2014 and Nov. 22, 2014 storms as “two extraordinary weather events,” and said “there were certain deviations” from the snow and ice control plan.
Two regional jets became stuck in snow after turning onto untreated taxiways and one private plane turned onto a fire access road during the February storm instead of a treated taxiway as instructed by the control tower, the airport authority said.
Crews applied 9,700 gallons of liquid pavement deicer and 24 tons of sand to the airfield “prior to the precipitation” on Nov. 22, 2014.
The airport authority also said heavy snow and ice equipment are being added, and nine additional workers were hired to the maintenance team.
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