Two flights grounded after de-icing vehicle catches fire at Johnstown airport

Jan. 13—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A de-icing equipment malfunction grounded two flights from the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport on Friday, Airport Manager Cory Cree said.

But SkyWest officials said they were working Friday evening to keep the rest of the weekend's departure's on schedule.

SkyWest personnel were using equipment to spray a commercial jet with a de-icing solution when the device began emitting smoke, which prompted Transportation Security Administration workers to call 911 for extra assistance.

Airport staff used fire extinguishers and a fire-suppression vehicle and Richland Township fire, EMS and police responded, Cree said.

There were no injuries, he said.

"The only damage was to the de-icing vehicle — but that is needed to spray the planes before they take off in (cold) conditions," Cree said.

SkyWest Corporate Communications Manager Wes Horrocks said Saturday flights remained on schedule as of 4 p.m. Friday.

SkyWest officials were working to either have a new vehicle hauled in or make arrangements to use Fixed Base Operator Nulton Aviation's de-icer.

He said arrangements were made to get Friday travelers to other airports or rebook flights — and anyone with questions about future flights can check the status at or the office's ticket desk at 814-536-0002 extension 1.

Flight cancellations have been rare at the Johnstown airport since SkyWest began serving the community more than two years ago.

The airport's latest report to airport authority officials in December showed just one flight was cancelled for maintenance issues from January through November of 2022. The percentage of cancellations for any reason was approximately just over half of 1 percent — or .06 percent of the 718 flights scheduled.

By comparison, the industry-wide cancellation rate across the country was 3.2% through the first half of 2022, data showed.

Cree has previously credited the airport's investment in new methods to treat the runway prior to winter storms as another reason for improved flight rates.

"This incident was something that was out of our control," Cree said.