What Is an Airplane Deicer?

Aircraft are designed to withstand countless environmental stressors such as unprecedented weather, severe turbulence, unexpected landings, and more. Equipped with systems and features that enhance its performance and safety, aircraft are constructed to endure varying extremes. One of the most important systems aircraft have are deicers.

De-icing systems contain a combination of propylene glycol and water. Propylene glycol is used to lower the freezing point of water and the amount that is utilized is dependent on the ambient temperature. This mixture is heated to a temperature between 150-180 degrees Fahrenheit and dispersed over the aircraft with high pressure to remove snow and ice. The removal of snow, ice, or slush is important as they pose safety hazards that reduce the overall performance of aircraft. In particular, ice formation is as coarse as sandpaper, consequently reducing lift and increasing drag.

It is important to note that there is a major distinction between deicing and anti-icing. Deicing can be identified as a runny, orange solution that you see being sprayed over aircraft as you look out your window. This is typically carried out when ice has already formed on the aircraft. Anti-icing, on the other hand, consists of a viscous, green solution that removes ice from the wings, from wing tip to wing root, allowing pilots to take off with ease. The main purpose of anti-icing is to prevent the additional formation of ice after the aircraft has been deiced. 

Both solutions are usually applied at the gate and after pushback, or at deicing pads. If there is ice near the forward aircraft door or the nose, deicing is performed after pushback. Toronto-Pearson International Airport is just one example of an airport that is equipped with deicing pads. Just under the pads, you can find tanks replete with the glycol solutions needed to deice and anti-ice aircraft.

Prior to pilots making decisions about whether or not they need to deice their aircraft, they must consider speed. As the deicing solution is liquid, one must complete the procedure with haste, preventing the moisture in the water from freezing as well. Though deicing is meant to melt the ice that has already frosted on aircraft, if a plane lands and it starts to snow once more, the plane must be deiced all over again. This is the exact reason that anti-icing is important.

As the anti-icing solution is thicker in consistency, it adheres better to the aircraft, providing added protection. In fact, the FAA recommends that anti-icing solutions be applied within three minutes of deicing and should not be carried out if the solution has begun to freeze. If the aircraft is lightly coated in flakes, the deicing and anti-icing solutions can be applied simultaneously.

Deicing and anti-icing must be applied in a number of areas, some of which include the wings, fuselage, control surfaces and gaps, engine inlets, fan blades, landing gear, propellers, antennae, and sensors. For example, without a deicing solution, ice can freeze on the wings, making them heavy. Additionally, ice could shake loose and fly into the engine, which is even more troubling.

Regardless of the procedure being carried out to ensure optimal aircraft performance, pilots get to decide when to perform deicing and anti-icing. If you find yourself in need of deicing or anti-icing solutions for your operations, rely on RFQ Experts. RFQ Experts is a premier purchasing platform with an inventory of over 2 billion ready-to-purchase items. With new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find products at your disposal, you are bound to find what you need. Kickoff the procurement process and see how RFQ Experts can serve as your strategic sourcing partner for all your operational needs. 


January 23, 2023

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