WATCH: "Organized chaos" -- Behind the scenes at Pearson Airport on a snow day

Organized chaos.

It's how officials at Pearson International Airport describe keeping things going at the country's busiest air travel hub while keeping runways clear on a snowy day.

There is a lot to choreograph in this intricate, carefully-timed dance.

180 crew members, 94 pieces of snow-clearing machinery and 14 snow melters to tackle 4.2 million sq m of runway surface, the equivalent of 2, 659 NHL-sized rinks. Then there are thousands of parking spaces and 90 km of road to keep clear. In the stable, a Snow Wolf airblower with a 1050 horsepower engine that can shoot snow 100 ft away.

High winds swept much of an overnight snowfall away early Tuesday. Still some 400 flights in and out of Pearson were cancelled, many connecting to destinations in the the Northeastern U.S. as it is pounded by a storm that could dump as much as 2 ft of snow on New York City.

NEWSTALK 1010 reporter Justine Lewkowicz rode along with an airfield technical inspector at Pearson.

Inspectors are responsible for testing the safety of the runway. It isn't a job for the faint of heart. Inspectors accelerate down the runway in an sensor-loaded SUV to a speed of 70 km/h and slam on the brakes. You don't have the benefit of salt to keep you from slipping and sliding as it would damage planes.

Information gleaned from 'spot friction test' can be used by pilots to make adjustments on take-off or landing.

with files from Justine Lewkowicz


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