Traveling via airplane can be a great way to get to your desired destination quickly and efficiently. As a plane travels through the air, cold temperatures and moisture particles have the potential to combine and create ice on the surface of the aircraft. Ice buildup could render a plane unable to fly safely, so keeping a plane ice-free during flight is critical.
Here are three systems that are responsible for keeping airplanes ice-free.
1. Pneumatic Systems
A pneumatic system relies on air to help keep ice off the surface of a plane. When a pneumatic system is used for deicing, the leading edges of the plane's wings and tail will be covered with small rubber pockets.
These pockets are periodically inflated with air during flight. As the air fills the rubber pockets, any ice that has started to collect on the surface of the pockets cracks and flakes off. Pneumatic systems are popular for smaller aircraft and can be a great way to prevent ice buildup from compromising the safety of a plane.
2. Electric Systems
When a plane relies on an electric system to prevent ice buildup, the leading edges of the aircraft's wings, tail, and often the propellers are lined with a hardy rubber coating. Embedded within this rubber coating is a grid-like heating element.
Whenever ice is detected on the surface of the rubber, the heating element is electronically activated. The rubber becomes warm, and any ice present melts away, Electric systems have the ability to operate continuously, making them a great option for helicopters and large planes flying in cool climates.
3. Air-Bleed Systems
Fixed-wing aircraft can be designed to utilize an air-bleed system to prevent ice from building up on their surface. These systems make use of the heated air created by the airplane's combustion engine during flight. Heated air from the engine chamber is diverted into a cavity built into the plane's wings and tail.
The heated air helps to warm the surface of the aircraft above the freezing point, preventing ice from accumulating during flight. An air-bleed system runs autonomously and continuously, keeping a fixed-wing plane ice-free for extended periods of time.
Understanding the types of deicing systems available for modern aircraft will help you determine which system you should utilize in the design of your next plane. Installing a pneumatic, electric, or air-bleed deicing system will ensure your aircraft has the ability to operate safely over time.