When you love summer and work in de-icing

Aeromag’s Changemakers October 25, 2023
The Portraits of Changemakers series focuses on visionary individuals who work at Aeromag and who, every day, demonstrate a willingness to make a difference in the world. Among them is Bernard Giguère, the current Operations Manager and future General Manager of our Montreal station (YUL).

On April 30th, Bernard will have officially completed 18 seasons of deicing with Aeromag. Eighteen seasons of snow, freezing rain and wind gusts!

Learning to enjoy winter through your career

In a jovial tone, the Operations Manager tells us about his “baby”—the Mag 15—a Vestergaard Elephant® BETA truck. He also loves using the MY truck, perhaps because its open bed allows him to be more in the action. An aviation enthusiast, Bernard’s favorite aircraft is the Big Bird, aka the Boeing 777. “What a beautiful plane to see taxiing and taking off,” he says.

Even though he’s in the deicing business, Bernard isn’t necessarily the biggest fan of the cold season. “Do I love winter? Love is a big word,” says the golf fanatic. He loves the summer season filled with warmth, barbecues and outdoor dinners. Bernard describes himself as a “gardening enthusiast” who starts his own seeds in the spring. “However, I must say that Aeromag has made me see winter differently,” he admits.

Taking the success of a Quebec company to heart

Since Bernard’s arrival in 2005, Aeromag has grown from a Quebec company to a world-class Quebec company. “It’s a source of pride to see this local company grow every day,” he explains. Over the years, the experience and expertise of the teams have created business opportunities and generated growth. “It’s become big,” Bernard sums up.

“When I arrive at work, I feel proud because we have all contributed to making this company exceptional.”

Among the things he likes most about his job, Bernard cites the camaraderie at the Montreal station. “Working with different people to achieve a common goal is extremely rewarding,” he says. On a day-to-day basis, he appreciates that each day brings its own set of unexpected events, but also solutions.

Unpredictable weather always hovers around deicing operations, so you have to sharpen your reflexes. “We have to be efficient, while respecting the highest safety standards, in sometimes extreme temperatures,” notes Bernard. It’s in these unique conditions that the teams are able to perfect their skills and become more solid.

Innovative facilities to maximize team efficiency

The YUL station where Bernard works is one of the most comprehensive in the deicing world. “Most people who visit us are amazed at the quality of our facilities,” he observes. “We keep our trucks clean and their maintenance is carried out daily by our mechanical team,” explains Bernard. “The garage allows us to park the trucks away from the cold and bad weather, which drastically increases their life span. The indoor facilities allow us to fill four trucks with deicing and anti-icing products at the same time, in about five minutes.”

The exterior layout isn’t bad either, with a deicing area located in the center of the airport and four access lanes near the runway thresholds. “We have eight deicing bays with recessed lights and signage that guide the crew to the stop bar in an automated fashion,” he adds. Well-defined safety zones between each of the bays provide safe lateral clearance between the deicing units and the aircraft. And the large candles at the ends illuminate the deck and ensure smooth flow of the deicing units.

A recycling center to extend the glycol life cycle

This configuration is complemented by a strategically placed collection network to maximize the recovery of glycol that flows onto the deicing pad. The recovered glycol is piped to the RRR (recover, recycle, reuse) recycling center.

“This recycling center plays a vital role in our daily operations.”

First of all, it produces between 1.2 and 1.5 million liters of ethylene glycol annually, which allows Aeromag’s partners to have substantial savings on the price per liter. “All this is made possible thanks to high-performance equipment that helps us recycle a large part of what our network collects using evaporation and distillation,” he explains. “Tanks give us room to store and recycle this water so that we can use it again.”

YUL’s facilities also have a heat recovery system that channels the heat generated during the recycling process into the garage that houses the trucks to increase the ambient temperature and reduce annual heating costs.

“The recycling center is a source of pride for the company, our YUL partners and our teams,” says Bernard. “By extending the life cycle of glycol, we become aware of our potential impact on sustainable development. We are able to create economic opportunities, while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, our residual materials and our use of drinking water,” he concludes.

Bernard is certainly inspiring, but he’s not the only changemaker to have influenced Aeromag’s journey! Meet Jason Day, General Manager at our Denver station, who began his career as a Deicing Technician.