Just in time for cold weather and winter operations to start, below are a few ways to deice aircraft.
Deicing is defined as “the procedure by which ice, frost, slush, or snow is removed from the aircraft.” Contaminants can attach to aircraft from the typical freezing rain, snow, sleet, etc., but it can also come from runways, taxiways, or ramps, affecting the landing gear and lower parts of the aircraft. It is important to note that even if conditions show no current precipitation, blowing snow can get packed in small areas of the aircraft such as the static system sensing ports. In order to ensure compliance with the Clean Aircraft Concept, it is imperative that a thorough contamination check is completed before takeoff.
If there are contaminants detected on the aircraft, the following are common deice methods:
- Heating the aircraft by moving it to a heated hangar. When heating the aircraft in a hangar, it is important that all of the moisture be eliminated before moving the aircraft outside. Leftover moisture can refreeze on the aircraft, reversing the process entirely. It is also important to be aware that if the surface temperature is warmer than the ambient air temperature, snow or other frozen contaminants could melt then refreeze.
- Spraying the affected areas of the aircraft. These are either anti-icing/deicing fluids or hot water, most often applied with a sprayer, coating the critical surfaces evenly. On smaller aircraft, a mop and bucket is also an effective method of coating the aircraft.
- Removing the contaminants by hand with brushes or other tools. This is potentially the harshest method, as the tools could damage the aircraft. Damage can be avoided as long as care is taken when using these tools, especially around antennas, static wicks, and other easily damaged areas. Often both brushes and deicing fluids are used together in order to be most effective.