Workers Give Rare, Up-Close Look At Plane Deicing Process
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Mechanical monsters from a “Star Wars” flick? No, these are the good guys.
Crew members bathe each aircraft with jets of spray on Runway 28 at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Integrated Deicing Services, or IDS, does the job at 10 U.S. airports, as well as in London and Geneva.
Operations Supervisor Kevin Gill says deicing is this weather is crucial.
“We’re going to look at the nose and the fuselage, onto the wings, and around the side of the tail last,” said Gill. “We have to make sure all the frozen contaminants are removed in order for a smooth takeoff.”
White ice stands out against the blue. But not for long.
The spray is a mix of water and propylene glycol.
“It leaves a light film of propylene glycol to protect the surface from snow and ice adhering to the aircraft,” says Gill.
They’ll use from 30 gallons up to hundreds of gallons, depending on the extent of ice coverage.
The mixture comes from the nozzle at temperatures ranging from 140 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The ice doesn’t have a chance.
“The gentleman in the boom, [is] seated, [and] controls the boom and the nozzle controls. We have several different settings on the nozzle,” Gill said.
The buckets are heated, allowing operators to work in relative comfort. Those who spray the underside, well, that’s another story.
But everyone’s goal is to deice every inch of surface. It takes an average of six to 12 minutes to deice a plane. But the wait is worth it.
“We tell our folks to look in the window, and imagine the person you love most sitting on that aircraft. You’re doing it for them,” says Gill.
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