Massive de-icing pads opened at Memphis International Airport

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by Emily Atkins

A ceremony this week marked the opening of 3.3 million-square-feet of de-icing pads at Memphis International Airport.

The pads are large enough to de-ice 12 wide-body cargo aircraft simultaneously. The FAA invested $174 million to help make this project a reality.

The airport is home to 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,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“Memphis International Airport is the biggest cargo airport in the country, and this innovative aircraft de-icing facility is one of the many ways we’re modernizing America’s supply chains.”

With these de-icing pads at Memphis International Airport, message boards eliminate the need for audio communication with pilots, taxiway lead-in lights eliminate the need for follow-me vehicles or marshallers, and infrared cameras help position airplanes in the de-icing bays.

These pads offer more environmentally friendly de-icing procedures with wider safety margins. De-icing planes at a central pad instead of the gate allows an aircraft to depart sooner, reducing the need to de-ice an aircraft again.

The new pads have a segregated drainage system and large-volume containers to collect de-icing fluid. The fluid’s release is metered into the sanitary sewer system, where it breaks down and helps sanitize city wastewater.

“We want to thank the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration and Memphis International Airport for their support of this new Consolidated De-icing Facility – an example of how to deploy technology to improve operational efficiency,” said Richard W. Smith, president and CEO, FedEx Express.

“The timing could not be better as FedEx enters the busy holiday season. This facility is a shining example of how we can help ensure our team members are safely operating throughout the winter season as we deliver outstanding service for our customers.”