Memphis Airport Opens New Deicing Pads Ahead of Winter Season

The new deicing pads are large enough to simultaneously accommodate 12 widebody cargo aircraft.

Construction of 3.3 million-square-feet of new deicing pads at Memphis International Airport has been completed ahead of the winter season. The project, which included $174 million in FAA funding, is an example of federal investment into the modernization of a critical U.S. cargo hub, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The new deicing pads are large enough to accommodate a dozen wide-body cargo aircraft simultaneously, the Department Of Transportation said.

Buttigieg joined federal, state and local business leaders at the airport Tuesday to mark completion of the project that is strategically geared toward keeping the supply chain intact this winter at FedEx’s largest air cargo sorting facility. 

“This holiday season and every season, it’s critical that American families and businesses get the goods they need when they need them,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “Memphis International Airport is the biggest cargo airport in the country, and this innovative aircraft deicing facility is one of the many ways we’re modernizing America’s supply chains.”

Innovative Deicing Pads

The deicing pads are designed to make operations more efficient. Message boards, for example, eliminate the need for audio communication with pilots, DOT said. Additionally, taxiway lead-in lights eliminate the need for follow-me vehicles or marshallers, and infrared cameras help position airplanes in deicing bays. 

“Innovative projects like this are key to improving safety, increasing efficiency, and advancing sustainability across the country,” Deputy FAA Administrator A. Bradley Mims said.

The new deicing pads will also have a segregated drainage system and containers to collect fluid, which the city will use to sanitize city wastewater.

Richard Smith, president, and CEO of FedEx Express, expressed gratitude for the investment and the impact it would have on his cargo airline.

Memphis International Airport is home to FedEx’s largest air cargo sorting facility. The pads are large enough to de-ice 12 wide-body cargo aircraft simultaneously. [Courtesy: U.S. Department of Transportation]

“We want to thank the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, and Memphis International Airport for their support of this new Consolidated Deicing Facility—an example of how to deploy technology to improve operational efficiency,” Smith said. “The timing could not be better as FedEx enters the busy holiday season.”

Winter is Coming

The Memphis project is one of several investments being made with winter weather in mind. Last week, the FAA and DOT awarded more than $76.2 million to airports to equip them with snow plows, deicing equipment, and new or upgraded buildings for equipment storage for the winter season.

Of that, approximately $46.2 million will be used to purchase snow removal equipment, another $13.6 million will be used to develop deicing facilities, and the final $16.4 million will construct and renovate buildings that house and maintain snow removal equipment. That funding comes from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program.

“We can’t let winter weather stop aircraft from safely landing and taking off. This funding will help keep airports operating this winter and safely transport passengers and cargo to their work, families, and vacations,” Associate Administrator for Airports Shannetta Griffin, P.E. said.


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