Even as researchers study ways to improve detection of in-flight icing and make airframes and engines more resistant to icing conditions, they continue to struggle to understand the icing phenomenon–especially the formation of ice crystals–according to speakers at a conference on the subject organized by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in Cologne, Germany recently. Ice-prevention techniques present their own challenges, which aircraft makers, airports and ground handlers are endeavoring to solve.
Boeing has advised GEnx engine operators that it is revising the 787’s and the 747-8’s flight manuals to prohibit flight within 50 nm of thunderstorms that may contain ice crystals. Following Boeing’s recommendation, Japan Airlines immediately announced it would switch aircraft on two routes. From April to November, GEnx-powered aircraft suffered six engine-icing events, according to a GE statement. All aircraft landed at their planned destinations, said the engine maker, and none of the incidents involved in-flight shutdowns–only temporary thrust losses.
At the Monaco Yacht Show in September, Eurocopter exhibited a “collectable art” EC135 helicopter with a distinctive zig-zag, blue-on-white livery aboard the 282-foot super-yacht Quattronelle.
Equipment manufacturer Zodiac Aerospace is developing two new in-flight icing detection systems (FIDS). Scheduled to be ready for entry-into-service in 2015, the first system will detect supercooled droplets of less than 50 microns in diameter. This size is consistent with current standards for large aircraft (CS-25, Appendix C under EASA rules).
GKN Aerospace (Chalet B73, Hall 2b F169) has completed coordination of a nine-nation European project, which has succeeded in developing a new optical ice-monitoring concept. The new system promises fully automated inflight ice protection for the first time.
Less than two months after two possible weather-related fatal crashes of EMS helicopters in Illinois and Iowa, the FAA issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SW-08-03R3) covering recommendations for rotorcraft powered by turboshaft engines flying into snowy or icy conditions. The SAIB describes procedures to reduce the probability of an uncommanded in-flight engine shutdown due to snow and/or ice ingestion and reminds operators that most helicopters are not approved/equipped for flight-into-icing conditions.
Despite the first day of spring being just a few weeks away, encounters with icing at altitude still represent a very real problem. Responsibility for understanding the intricacies of ice formation, as well as how to exit an area of icing before a loss of aircraft control occurs, still falls on the cockpit crew. Here are some valuable icing resources that are easily accessed from any Internet connection that are worth bookmarking for next year’s season.
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.
A team of Harvard University researchers has devised a product that prevents ice and frost from forming on metal surfaces such as the leading edge of an aircraft wing.
Surfaces treated with the non-toxic, non-corrosive Slips (for slippery liquid infused porous surfaces) become ultra smooth, slippery surfaces to which fluids and solids alike, such as condensation, frost and even ice, will not adhere.
The Slips technology–tested so far on refrigerator fans–has also been proven to work effectively under high-humidity and high-pressure conditions.
Kestrel Aircraft has tapped Cox to supply an electro-mechanical ice protection system for its single-engine turboprop, the companies announced today at the NBAA Convention. The system allows “effective ice removal” without the need for de-icing boots or an anti-icing fluid system. According to Kestrel president and CEO Alan Klapmeier, the electro-mechanical system “allows for effective ice removal while retaining a laminar flow.” The single-engine Kestrel is expected to be in service by 2016.
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