What Are Deicing and Anti-Icing?
When encountering freezing temperatures, it is imperative that all aircraft undergo appropriate anti-icing and deicing measures before takeoff to circumvent the buildup of ice. As different aircraft—such as commercial jets—are predisposed to accumulating more ice than others due to their shape and operational factors, certain items composing the vehicle require additional attention to detail during construction to mitigate complications caused by ice. As ice can rapidly form on all areas of an aircraft, including the engine(s), ice protection systems are critical for the following parts of a plane: wings, aerofoils, power plant(s), high lift devices, and control systems. Within this blog, we will discuss the fundamental basics of deicing and anti-icing equipment, and why they are crucial for ensuring passenger safety and vehicle stability.
Intended to be used in flight, deicing components aid in removing ice after it has been formed on an aircraft, directly contributing to lower fuel consumption by mitigating drag. Moreover, as various means of distributing energy exist to warm different areas in need of deicing, deicing systems require little energy from the aircraft to operate. As a result, these systems prove especially beneficial for aircraft with limited power supplies. Common deicing equipment includes inflatable pneumatic deicing boots for inboard, mid, and outboard sections of an aircraft's wings and tail plane, as well as fluid deicing and ground deicing systems.
Unlike deicing components, anti-icing systems are used on an aircraft before takeoff or before icing conditions occur. However, they can also function as a deicing system when necessary. Often used for planes that are not equipped with or are incapable of producing excess energy for deicing, anti-icing systems aid in preventing ice from forming on a vehicle during the duration of a flight. Although anti-icing measures require the even distribution of a chemical solution across the exterior of an aircraft, such systems can also be designed as thermal anti-ice systems with the aid of airfoils, weeping-wing designs, windscreens, and propeller anti-ice boots, among various others.
Without the addition of ice protection systems in cold weather conditions, aircraft are susceptible to increased weight and drag, as well as decreased lift, decreased thrust, and engine damage from improper airflow. Despite these components having the ability to reduce ice accumulations, planes are continually exposed to below freezing temperatures when flying at cruising altitudes up to 36,000 feet. As such, it is inevitable that there will always be accretions that continually form. Because of this, deicing systems may require continuous use to mitigate the collection of formations. Alongside continuous employment, items such as deicing boots are prone to defects like blow holes caused by an accumulation of static electricity. As anti-icing and deicing measures are not built to sustain long periods of flight accompanied by consistent ice buildup, it is imperative that all equipment be inspected before flight to ensure everything is properly functioning.
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