Spring is nearing, but it remains icy cold throughout much of the USA and around the Northern Hemisphere. That means you may experience a de-icing before your aircraft departs. But have you ever wondered what exactly that is?
United Airlines released a short but helpful video to better explain the process.
A few thoughts:
- 2-5 de-icing trucks are generally used per-aircraft
- De-icing is done at the gate or on a “pad” (like an aircraft carwash)
- These are sometimes necessary even on bright and sunny days due to frost
- Nozzles can be raised 82 feet (25 meters)
- Fluid released (“Type 1 Fluid”) is 140-180ºF (60-82ºC)
- Type 1 Fluid, containing glycol and water, is orange in color and removes snow and ice
- Type 4 Fluid, containing only glycol, is green in color and protects the flight surface
- United alone de-ices 58,000 aircraft each year, including on Star Alliance partners operating in United hubs or focus cities
- Chicago – 14,980 de-icings
- Denver – 6,800
- Newark – 3,800
- Cleveland – 1,900
- Snow is manually removed from the belly of aircraft
Do note that the video offer 360º views so you can pivot to different angles.
When I was a kid, I remember the first time I encountered a de-icing situation. It was from Chicago to Los Angeles on United and I had no idea what was going on. Growing up, all my flights were during the summer. I could have sort of explained this process before, but now I can better explain it when Augustine (my son) asks.