Arkansas airport maintains grounds with this all-wheel steer loader
The airline industry relies on timetables to show airport arrival and departure times throughout the day. Because of this, the window of opportunity to keep the airport grounds and taxiways safe for passengers and aircraft is often compressed.
The 10-person maintenance staff at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) in Bentonville, Ark., has relied on the Bobcat A770 All-Wheel Steer Loader since 2013 to perform a variety of grounds maintenance tasks. Maintenance crews use the loader to get projects done during the time each day when air traffic is lighter.
“The best time to get many jobs completed is from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” says Thane Seeley, airport operations specialist. “If you miss that window, you have to wait until midnight when the airport shuts down.”
With limited time to complete the work and do the best job possible, the high-production A770 — along with six Bobcat attachments — can, at times, replace other equipment designated for a specific job.
“The Bobcat loader is so much easier on the ground surface than using our backhoe,” says David Cravens, lead maintenance technician. “We have a really high water table and the heavy backhoe causes groundwater to swell and create deep ruts.”
The all-wheel steer loader is lightweight and maneuverable. The unit can travel through mud without leaving a mess behind. Not only are ruts unsightly, but, more importantly, they create situations and hazards (such as water accumulation) that are against Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
The loader and its hydraulic breaker attachment simplify another ongoing project at the airport: pavement repair. The equipment combination replaces renting a jackhammer which would add “hours and hours” to the process, says Cravens.
Time for grounds maintenance at XNA may be limited, but the Bobcat’s compact equipment and attachments make crews more efficient.