Many cockpit crewmembers believe the ingestion of ice crystals by a jet engine is essentially harmless if the engine’s igniters are turned on. However, aeronautical engineers generally do not agree, citing incidents when mixing ice with standard intake air resulted in a noticeable reduction in engine power output and, at its worst, a complete engine flameout. Ice formation inside an engine compartment can also lead to indicator anomalies that may not shut down the engine, but may lead to air data system failures.
Scientists at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a method of reproducing the natural events that support cloud formation and the development of ice crystals inside turbine powerplants to better understand the physics of engine ice formation. Honeywell Aerospace donated an engine to NASA for the research efforts that are expected to conclude by March 1.
The Glenn Propulsion Systems Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio, is the only engine test facility capable of recreating conditions of flight up to 90,000 feet and speeds up to Mach 4.