Bombardier flight tests electric ice-protection system

 - September 30, 2011, 8:30 PM

In the quest to develop more aircraft systems driven by electricity and to improve reliability, Bombardier Aerospace completed another milestone in its Strategic Technology program for civil aviation: known-icing tests of an electro-thermal wing leading-edge ice-protection system. The system features a Fokker composite electro-thermal leading edge, Meggitt heaters and a power harness using ICE Corp. controllers, installed on the most outboard wing slat–an 11-foot section–of a Bombardier Global 5000.

Bombardier tested the Electro-Thermal Ice Protection System (EIPS) in a wind tunnel and icing tunnel before flight tests began. More than 35 hours of flight-testing was done in Alaska, south of Anchorage, including seven hours with the EIPS on in dry-air and natural icing conditions, according to Bombardier. “The system demonstrated structural integrity and successful ice protection performance as anticipated from a more efficient electrical system,” said Peter Rawlinson, system lead engineer, Bombardier Aerospace. The flights were flown by engineering test pilots Sam Gamar and Frank Magnusson, and also on board were Jeff Hyde and Laura Hilboldt, flight test engineers, and Eduardo Freitas and Kheira Aboubi, thermodynamics engineers.

The trend toward using electrical power to replace bleed air is growing. Boeing has made a huge investment in electrically driven systems in the new 787 (using many products made by ICE Corp). Bombardier predicts benefits of so-called “more electric” aircraft will include improved dispatch reliability thanks to “elimination of bleed-air ducting, valves and leak detection associated with hot bleed-air duct failures.” Other benefits include simpler manufacturing and assembly processes and lower maintenance costs, plus environmental savings from reduced engine emissions.

The EIPS tests are part of a technology development program that includes avionics, systems and advanced structures and manufacturing methods, according to Bombardier vice president and chief engineer Francois Caza. Bombardier has yet not identified any aircraft programs that will feature the new EIPS technology.