When DESCO Manufacturing was asked to help solve a mission-critical problem at the nation’s newest privately-owned and operated airport, they successfully delivered the right tool and services to rave reviews from the customer.

Propeller Airports has built an award-winning $50 Million airport and terminal at Paine Field (Everette, WA) and operates the facility for its owner, Snohomish County. This regional airport opened to passengers in spring 2019 and has been awarded the “best regional airport” in Monocle's Travel Top 50.

Shortly after the airport was opened, Terminal Director Thomas Amano discovered that the heavy aircraft and jetways had created several indentations in the runway surfaces near the terminal. As a temporary solution, several large 3/4-inch carbon steel plates were strategically placed in high-traffic areas where jetways and aircraft would park.

However, a problem was discovered. When the steel plates became wet, they were extremely slippery, and the aircraft could potentially slide on the plates. And in the Pacific Northwest, with tons of rain and fog, this was a critical problem. There was an urgent need to create a non-slip surface on the plates!

Terminal Director Thomas Amano is a former Naval commander and served as a Handler on the flight decks of several US Aircraft Carriers. As a result, he was well-acquainted with the need for a non-slip surface and knew how to create it. There were several commercial coatings which could be applied to the steel plates, but first their surfaces needed to be properly prepared.

At first, sanders and grinders were used to prepare the surfaces, but these tools failed to properly prepare the surfaces and took way too long to strip the surfaces. At that point, Mr. Amano called Ralph Fabian, CEO of DESCO Manufacturing, and asked for help. He knew from using DESCO tools while in the NAVY that DESCO has been successful preparing surfaces for the application of non-stick adhesives on steel. In fact, DESCO is key supplier of surface preparation tools for the entire Navy.

During testing, the DESCO FX tools using the heavy-duty Roto Peen Hub were proven to be the ideal surface preparation tool for the task at hand. The hand-held FX quickly removed the surface mil scale, as well as provided a 2-3 mil profile on the plates, ideal for the nonskid adhesive to be applied.

Terry Wilcoxson, Terminal Project Manager for the Steel Plate Coatings project, reports “the FX tool worked just great. The work went very fast, and most of the plates were completed in less than a day.” The project has been impacted by several weather delays and scheduling around aircraft traffic but is almost complete. Each of the large steel plates (15x8 feet) was fully prepared and industrial shop vacs were used to pick up any residue. Two coatings were applied: Tough Grip and American Safety MS800G (also used for the Navy).

Mr. Wilcoxson is delighted with the support and service he received from DESCO. “Your customer service has been phenomenal”, he raves. Asked how much training was needed to operate the FX, he was equally impressed. Reading the instructions and getting help from DESCO was simple and “If you let the machine do the job itself, it’s really easy. It’s a marvelous tool, and we 100% recommend it!”

The entire job was completed using one Roto-Peen hub, which is included with the FX tool, so this was an excellent return on the original investment. Asked if he would change anything about the project, Wilcoxson commented “if we did it again, we’d use the standup version of the FX,” which would save wear and tear on the knees.”

Workman inspecting painted metal plates supporting aircraft
Paine field Jetway resting on steel plates
Aircraft taxing into terminal at Paine Field, will rest on steel plates (yellow)