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How Does De-Icing Equipment Work?

Date: November 2, 2015 Category: Blog
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De-icing equipment ensures smooth flying.

Winter weather grounds a lot of pilots eager to get into the air during inclement weather. Luckily the use of de-icing equipment has reduced time on the ground due to ice buildup.

Without the use of de-icing equipment, ice can cause the shape of airfoils and flight control surfaces to change, making it impossible to get the aircraft off the ground, or resulting in a complete loss of control in-flight. So how does de-icing equipment work?

Pre-Bath Prep

First, the aircraft is often treated with a good spray of compressed air to free snow, ice, or slush clinging to the wings, tail, nose, and engine intake.

Taking the Plunge

Next up is the de-icing fluid bath. For light snow and ice, propylene glycol is mixed with water, making a basic type-1 de-icing fluid. This type of de-icing fluid works great for removing snow and rime ice, which is a whitish granular type of ice that often builds up at the leading edge of a wing. If there’s heavy snowfall, it’s best to use type 4 de-icing fluid, which is 100% propylene glycol.

Putting the Boots On

Many aircraft also use de-icing boots in inclement weather. These are generally installed on the leading edges of wings. This thick rubber band can be inflated and then deflated to loosen any ice which accumulates on these surfaces. De-icing boots should be inspected regularly and replaced if they have any leaks, as air leakage could decrease their effectiveness. Larger airliners and military jets tend to have heating systems inside the wings instead of employing boot


Owners of the turbocharged Cessna T210L Centurion with propeller de-ice may also be interested in de-icing equipment that has been proven to enhance aircraft performance in all phases of flight. Installing one of Hartzell Propeller’s three-blade Scimitar Top Props, with a fully compatible propeller de-ice system, can improve runway speed by 3% and sea level climb by 4%.


Whatever type of aircraft you’re taking to the skies during inclement weather, ensure you have the right de-icing equipment on hand for a safe and smooth flight.

Hartzell Propeller