Spraying thousands of gallons of chemical fluid onto the aircraft is crucial before it can fly.
This process is called de-icing and is performed at airports where temperatures fall below freezing.
“As a northern city we do a lot of de-icing here in Edmonton. So we start early and go late. Edmonton or Calgary we de-ice 5 months a year,” says Steve Maybee, Director of Airport Operations.
If large pieces of ice separate when the aircraft is in motion, they can be ingested in engines or hit propellers and cause a crash.
“It’s integral, if the aircraft has too much ice on the wings it won’t get into flight and it’s bad news after that," adds Maybee.
The de-icing procedure delays the reformation of ice for a certain period of time by lowering the point at which water freezes over on the planes surface.
In December of 2009, the mercury dipped to a frigid -46°C at the Edmonton airport. With the wind chill it felt more like -59 making it the coldest place in North America and second coldest in the world, next to Siberia.
But due to the airport’s state of the art de-icing process the weather had minimal impact on departures that day.
This winter however, airport authority say they've had to do more de-icing than ever before.
"We've done over 4000 aircrafts, over a million litres of glycol, we’re on pace of double what we've done in past years," says Maybee.
De-icing may take 10 to 30 minutes to complete, but is crucial before taking flight.