O’Hare International Airport opens largest Central Deicing Facility in US

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and its airline partners have opened a new Central Deicing Facility (CDF) at O’Hare International Airport.

The centralized deicing facility, constructed on the west side of O’Hare, leverages new airfield capacity making it the largest deicing facility in the US and second largest in the world.

Jamie Rhee, commissioner for the CDA, said: “Coupled with our award-winning snow operations, and the ongoing investments to modernize our airfield, this new facility builds upon our commitment to improving safety and efficiency at one of the world’s busiest and best-connected airports.”

The 835,000-square-foot deicing area consists of a deicing pad, which accommodates up to 20 narrow body or five wide body airplanes at a time, and a four-story ramp tower that allows airlines the ideal vantage point to control their individual deicing operations. The facility is also equipped with lighting configuration, allowing 24-hours use, enhancing visibility during snow events.

The CDF will improve safety and efficiency for more than 50 air carriers serving O’Hare, allowing planes to be deiced as close as possible to departure from the runway. Airlines will have access to equipment, deicing fluid storage and other ancillary deicing functions.

Franco Tedeschi, vice president for American Airlines at Chicago, said: “Our deicing team is the best in the business and takes great pride in ensuring we get customers on their way safely and quickly during Chicago’s challenging winter weather. The new deicing facility will allow us to do just that, and we thank our partners at the Chicago Department of Aviation for their shared commitment to the project.”

Photo by The Business Journals – CDF at O’Hare

The $168 million project, completed in December 2018, took 20 months to construct. With roughly 3.5 million square feet of concrete laid. The project includes sustainability features allowing for deicing runoff to be recycled.

The CDF can be accessed by a new common-use taxiway system, Taxiway Z, connecting aircraft from the north to the south airfield. Once the aircraft is in the CDF, it will be serviced in areas dedicated to their specific airline.

The facility will not only provide significant improvements during the winter months, but also will provide operational relief to operations year-round, when aircraft may be subject to ground holds.

Feature image by Chicago Department of Aviation