ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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As Blizzard Hits, Standards Help Clear the Way for Safe Travel

Snow Conditions Close ANSI Office on December 27

New York, Dec 27, 2010

A weekend snowstorm that pummeled the East Coast with lashing winds and whiteout conditions brought a rare white Christmas to the South and air travel to the Northeast to a near halt. The blizzard, which halted 4,000 flights and numerous trains throughout the region, left thousands of travelers camped out in airports, hotels, and relatives’ homes at the tail-end of a busy holiday weekend.

The blinding storm brought swirling winds as high as 80 miles per hour, with some areas forecast to see as much as 30 inches of snow. In some cases, airlines grounded flights ahead of the storm to keep travelers from getting stuck at closed facilities. Blizzard warnings remained in effect through noon Monday for much of coastal New England, where coastal flooding was also a problem. As Northeast airports now begin to reopen in still-icy conditions, standards and other guidance documents are in place to help clear the way for safe travel.

SAE International, a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), has developed guidance documents to help airports get their runways clear and safely operational after winter’s harshest blows. SAE Aerospace Recommended Practice 5943, Snowplows and Hitches, covers requirements for snow removal equipment used to clear airport runways, ramps, and taxiways, as well as other airside operational areas. Once snow is cleared, SAE Aerospace Material Specifications 1448A, Sand, Airport Snow and Ice Control, can help to reduce any residual slickness. The document sets requirements for the sand used on airside surfaces to increase the friction of runways, taxiways, and ramps so that airplanes can brake properly and safely.

Passengers traveling by rail can also relax knowing that ANSI member the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has developed APTA-RT-RP-SC-003-02, Recommended Practice for Signal System Snow Melting Equipment Inspection and Testing. This recommended practice provides guidelines for inspecting and testing rail transit signal system snow melting equipment, improving rail safety during snowy conditions.

For those travelers taking to the road, a standard from ANSI member and audited designator ASTM International helps to determine the performance of automobile tires under winter’s cruelest conditions. ASTM F1572, Standard Test Methods for Tire Performance Testing on Snow and Ice Surfaces, outlines test methods for evaluating tire performance of cars and light truck vehicles on snow and ice. These test methods evaluate tires as part of the tire/vehicle system and do not reflect upon the performance of the vehicle itself. Accordingly, the standard allows for the variability of test results with different vehicles.

Walking or skiing are about the only easy ways to navigate the Mid-Atlantic winter wonderland today. But with these standards and guidelines in place, millions of Americans cooped up in airports, train stations, and hotels – or happily stuck on their couches at home – will soon be safely on the move again.

 Homeland Defense and Security Standardization Collaborative