The Chicago Dept. of Aviation unveiled an 835,000-sq-ft centralized deicing facility on the west side of O’Hare International Airport in February.

The deicing pad can accommodate 20 narrow-body planes or five wide-body ones at a time. A four-story tower operated by airline personnel coordinates which chemical-shooting trucks deice which planes and will manage lines during icy and snowy days. The facility benefits from the new common taxiway system at O’Hare that allows for easier travel for taxiing planes to the deicing pad and to the runways.

The 50 airlines that serve O’Hare paid for the $168-million facility. Anchor airlines American and United began to use it in February after it was cleared by safety officials, department of aviation spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said.

“The new centralized deicing facility is one of O’Hare’s newest and most important assets, as it promises to greatly enhance operating conditions for all of our airline partners, particularly during the winter season,” said Jamie Rhee, Chicago aviation commissioner. “Coupled with our award-winning snow operations, and the ongoing investments to modernize our airfield, this new facility builds upon our commitment to improving safety and efficiency at one of the world’s busiest and best connected airports.”

Both United and America had officials and winter operations personnel on hand to show off a plane being deiced.

“We are elated that the central deicing facility, which American first proposed more than five years ago, has come to fruition, bringing major benefits for our customers and the airport as a whole,” said Franco Tedeschi, American Airlines’ Chicago vice president.