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Travel How aircraft deal with the dangers of snow and ice

23:10  07 december  2019
23:10  07 december  2019 Source:   thepointsguy.com

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An expert's breakdown of how aircraft and crew deal with the perils that snow and ice can cause. Before getting airborne, we will always ensure that the aircraft is clear from all snow and ice . Once in the air , ice is still a threat but aircraft have a number of systems which protect against critical parts

In aviation, icing conditions are atmospheric conditions that can lead to the formation of water ice on an aircraft . Ice accretion can affect the external surfaces of an aircraft – in which case it is referred to as airframe icing – or the engine, resulting in carburetor icing , air inlet icing

  How aircraft deal with the dangers of snow and ice © Provided by The Points Guy

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As winter sets in, snow and ice become a regular part of aviation. While it may look great in your Instagram photos, icy conditions can cause some serious headaches for airlines and airports.

Why ice and aviation don’t mix

Aircraft fly not because of the engines, but because of the lift generated by the wings. The engines merely provide the forward propulsion to create that lift. As the aircraft accelerates down the runway, the airflow over the wing increases. When this airflow reaches a critical point, enough lift is generated by the wings to enable the aircraft to leave the ground and start climbing up into the air.

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This video looks at the dangers of ice and how it can affect aircraft . Many flights are affected by cold weather, ice and snow each year so this video

Snow and ice have the potential to impair the friction of runway surfaces. Thanks to the unique snow know- how or ‘snowhow’ in Finland, Helsinki Airport and

For every takeoff, we calculate the exact engine power and speeds required to lift off safely. When we hit the takeoff speed, known as Vr, we pull back on the stick and the aircraft eases into the air. However, these speeds are based on a “clean wing,” one free from any contamination from snow or ice.

The design of the wing on an aircraft doesn’t come together by accident. Millions of man hours are dedicated to creating the perfect angle and shape, to facilitate the ideal amount of lift as the air flows over the smooth surfaces.

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a person riding a snow board in the air: (Photo by Getty/Andrew Burton)© The Points Guy (Photo by Getty/Andrew Burton)

If there is snow or ice on the wing, the air will not flow smoothly and can break away from the surface. This results in a lack of lift. Therefore, for a speed which we have calculated will provide enough lift to takeoff, there will actually be less lift being generated. More speed will then be required to reach this critical speed, something which there may not be enough runway remaining to achieve.

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Winter creates a rather dangerous environment for people, which is why everyone should know about the dangers of winter snow and ice . Every company in

The snow is removed to a special storage area within the airport perimeter. When that fills up, it is taken to other facilities outside. Last winter 7,000 truckloads were carted off But there is also a dedicated " snow desk" that keeps in contact with the airlines, the ground handling team and air traffic control.

In addition to contaminated wings, ice and snow can also cause problems with the external sensors of the aircraft.

In order to ascertain the speed, altitude and a whole host of other parameters, there are a number of sensors and probes outside the aircraft. Of these, the pitot tubes are one of the most important.

Facing into the oncoming airflow, they measure how fast the aircraft is traveling through the air, giving the pilots important information about the aircraft’s speed. If these probes become blocked with ice and snow, they will give incorrect readings, causing problems in the flight deck. As a result, it’s important to ensure that they are clear before departure.

As a result, pilots take ice and snow contamination on the aircraft very seriously.

Before takeoff

With the knowledge that ice and snow is bad for aviation, there are a number of steps we take to ensure that the aircraft is safe for departure.

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Snow , ice and freezing temperatures are obvious winter weather hazards that require taking precautions. Take a look at the list below of issues caused by melting snow and ice and how to prevent them. • Warm air passing over the cold snow can cause dense fog, which can limit visibility.

Plain old snow will just blow off as soon as the plane picks up speed, but if the wing was above freezing when the snow first fell on it, the snow will probably conceal a layer of rough ice , which will not blow away. Anything adhering to the wing surface will change the lift force.

If there’s been a massive dumping of snow or it’s currently snowing, getting de-iced is a no brainer. However, sometimes if there has been a frost overnight it can be a little difficult to tell whether it’s ice on the wing or just condensation.

Even before reporting for duty, our minds are always thinking several steps ahead. If it’s early morning and you’ve had to scrape ice off the car before driving into work, there’s a fair chance that the aircraft will also be covered in ice.

a airplane that is covered in snow: Checking the aircraft for ice and snow is an important part of the exterior safety check. (Photo by Getty/yoh4nn)© The Points Guy Checking the aircraft for ice and snow is an important part of the exterior safety check. (Photo by Getty/yoh4nn)

Arriving at the aircraft, we will often get a good view of the airframe as we climb up the steps or walk down the jetty. If the view isn’t great, a look out of the cabin windows will often give us more information as to the state of the wing.

Finally, before every flight one of the pilots carries out an external safety check, including the state of the wings and fuselage. On smaller aircraft, reaching the wing isn’t too much of a problem. However, on larger aircraft like the 787 Dreamliner which I fly, the wing is a little bit out of reach.

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Sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice means that planes have to be de- iced before taking flight, so here's an explainer of aircraft deicing, why If there's a lot of snow or ice on the fuselage itself, they will spray it beginning at the top of the plane, just behind the cockpit, working their way toward the tail.

Learners observe a demonstration of how melting snow and ice can contribute to mudflows. They then observea list of continents with the number of snow and ice covered mountains on each continent and discuss. They then label a group of volcanoes on a blank map and plot a volcano and

If we are still not sure of whether it’s ice or condensation on the wing surface, engineers can use a special lift to reach the wing and inspect it much more closely. If there is any doubt at all, we will always take the safest option and get the wings de-iced.

So what exactly does the de-icing process actually involve?

A two-stage process

The de-icing process is normally a two-stage process. First the ice and snow deposits must be removed from the aircraft — this is the de-icing process. Then the wings and tail need to be protected from further contamination before the aircraft gets airborne — the anti-icing process.

De-icing

To remove the ice and snow deposits, the aircraft is sprayed with a hot mixture of glycol and water. This literally blasts the icy deposits off the wing. Once this is done, theoretically the aircraft is good to go. However, if the temperature is close to or below freezing and there is still moisture around in the form of fog or falling precipitation, there’s always a chance that more could settle on the wings before takeoff. To stop this from happening, the anti-icing stage is carried out.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: De-icing an A320. The fluid is a mixture of hot glycol and water. (Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)© The Points Guy De-icing an A320. The fluid is a mixture of hot glycol and water. (Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)

Anti-icing

Anti-icing fluids are similar to the de-icing fluids except that they also contain polymeric thickeners. This results in a layer of what often looks like green or yellow slime on the surface of the wings, preventing any falling precipitation from settling. While this is effective at the time of spraying, it’s only good for so long. Depending on what type on anti-icing fluid was used and the current weather conditions, the anti-icing may be effective for anything up to a couple of hours down to only a couple of minutes. This is known as the holdover time. Once this time has expired, the pilots cannot be sure that the wings are clear from snow and ice and the whole process must start again.

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Ice and snow on the fuselage and leading edges of the wings at the root, just prior to de- icing (Image by the author). To eliminate this form of contamination He or she will communicate directly with the ground staff via radio and confirm what was deployed on the aircraft and what the holdover time will be.

This is after it snowed this past Sunday, and we got about a foot of snow and ice last week [ ] While the rest of the world is stocking up on bread, eggs, and milk in advance of the snowstorm, I thought I’d help you with some free, frugal, and cheap ways that you can deal with snow and

On-stand treatment

At airports where the winters aren’t particularly severe, de-icing is normally done on the gate. This involves one or sometimes two specially designed trucks arriving at the aircraft side. Once the doors are closed and the air bridge is detached, they then begin spraying the aircraft. Depending on the level of contaminant and the expertise of the de-icing crew, this can take anything from around five minutes to 30 minutes. As soon as the anti-icing treatment begins, the clock is ticking on the holdover time.

Remote treatment

For larger airports where cold weather operations are a regular occurrence, they will often have specialized remote de-icing areas, normally close to the runway. Aircraft push back and start their engines as normal and then taxi out toward the remote de-icing area. If you’re on a flight where you seem to be taxiing to the runway with the wings covered in snow, do not worry. You will be heading toward one of these remote de-icing areas. Once in place with the parking brake set, the de-icing vehicles begin spraying the aircraft. They key difference here is that the engines remain running whilst the process is carried out. The main advantage here is that once the treatment has been completed, the aircraft only has to taxi a short distance to the runway and can be airborne in a matter of minutes. This is ideal when the holdover time may only be very short.

On the aircraft

Once airborne, while snow won’t settle on the aircraft, the build up of ice can be a problem. As the aircraft flies through visible moisture such as clouds and fog, if the temperature is low enough ice can start to form in the engines and on the leading edge of the wings. In order to counter this, aircraft have a number of systems to stop this accumulation of ice.

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Snow and ice can build up on aircraft on the ground, and can cause a hazard. Aircraft wings require a smooth clean flow of air to enable them to achieve lift. Pilots also avoid flying into ‘ icing conditions’. The below video is an episode of ‘ Air Crash Investigation’ showing an example of the dangers of ice .

How to deal with snow and ice the best ways possible. When temperatures drop it is important that you are prepared. The same can be said for dealing with a snowstorm, as the more snow there is on the ground, the more dangerous your daily commute becomes.

Automatic ice detection system

Aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner have an automatic ice detection system which senses the existence of icing conditions and provides signals to automatically control the various anti-ice systems on board. The system has two detectors which measure atmospheric liquid water content and uses a variety of temperature sources to determine if icing conditions exist.

The wings

Depending on the aircraft type, there are a number of different defenses against the build up of ice on the leading edge of the wing.

Most aircraft use hot air from the engine, known as bleed air. This is fed along ducts in the leading edge, warming it up and melting the ice off. Whilst this is an efficient way of getting rid of the ice, the bleed air saps power from the engine and also causes greater drag as it exits the wing into the atmosphere. Both of these factors require greater fuel burn to make up for the loss of power and aerodynamic efficiency.

Modern jets, like the 787 Dreamliner, have taken a different approach to wing anti-icing. The 787 uses a series of electrically heated blankets that are bonded to the inside of the leading edge structure. The heating of these blankets is enough to melt any ice forming on the wing. This system is far more effective, using around half the power that a traditional bleed system would use.

In addition, because there are no bleed air exhaust holes, drag over the wing and generated noise are reduced, making the Dreamliner not only more fuel efficient but also quieter.

The engines

While the exhaust of the engine is pretty hot, as the pressure changes at the front of the engine, the temperature can drop and ice can start to build up. This normally happens with air temperatures of between 10 and -40 degrees Celsius.

To stop this from happening, bleed air is used to raise the temperature. When icing conditions exist, the engine anti-ice valves open and hot bleed air is fed into the engine inlet and core, stopping ice from forming. When the aircraft exits the icing conditions, the valve closes automatically.

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Necessary conditions for icing include: Air temperatures 0°C or colder NOTE: If an aircraft has The danger of clear ice is great owing to (1) the loss of lift, because of the altered wing camber and the One of the most dangerous icing situations occurs with freezing rain, ice pellets, or wet snow at or

By having the system operational only when needed, it reduces the extra fuel burn as explained above.

a plane sitting on top of a snow covered road: Remote de-icing a 787 Dreamliner. (Photo by author)© The Points Guy Remote de-icing a 787 Dreamliner. (Photo by author)

Windows

Like on your car, the flight deck windows can also get iced up. Not great when you’re trying to drive to work, even worse when you’re trying to land an aircraft with 240 people on board. To counter ice on the windshield, the glass itself is electrically heated.

The outer surface has anti-icing and the inner surface has anti-fogging protection. These systems operate at all times, whether on the ground or in the air.

Air conditioning inlets

Unlike most aircraft, the air which you breathe in the cabin of a 787 comes directly from the outside. Whilst this is great for your health and well-being, it means that the inlets are also prone to ice build up, just like the leading edges of the wings.

To stop these inlets from icing up, there is an electric heater on the leading edge of each inlet. This also reduces ice formation further down the air conditioning ducts.

Probes

As mentioned above, there are a number of probes and sensors outside the aircraft which are critical to sensing the airspeed, altitude and temperatures to be displayed in the flight deck. To stop these from succumbing to ice, they are electrically heated when the engines are running.

Bottom line

Pilots are well aware of the threat which snow and ice poses to the safe conduct of their flight. Before getting airborne, we will always ensure that the aircraft is clear from all snow and ice. Once in the air, ice is still a threat but aircraft have a number of systems which protect against critical parts icing up. De-icing often brings delays to those airports where cold weather isn’t a regular occurrence but those airports which do suffer long, cold winters tend to be well prepared for mass de-icing. Even though it may be frustrating to deal with delays which de-icing causes, your pilots will never take a risk with your safety. If in doubt, de-ice.

Featured image by Getty/Tim Boyle

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Airline Asks Passengers to Leave After Flight Deemed 'Too Heavy' to Fly .
Five passengers were forced to disembark so that the Northern Ireland-bound flight could take off.According to The Independent, the Saturday morning flight was originally delayed due to bad weather. Independent journalist Ben Kelly was on the flight and reported on the situation from his seat.

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