How do I de-ice my plane?
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Answered By AOPA
How do I de-ice my plane?
5 Replies
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AOPA Staff Answer
Prevention is always better than cure, and a hangar away from elements is the best starting point.
If that is not practical, a soft brush can remove frost. For more stubborn ice, warm water can be used but that can cause other problems like refreezing in critical areas. Be certain to use a towel to immediately dry off the water.
De-icing fluids can also be used but they, too, have specific areas on the airframe that are not tolerant of the fluid.
Consult your pilot operating handbook or flight manual for recommended practices.
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In addition to the above information, the FAA has produced an Advisory Circular that covers this topic (and more) AC-135-17 . It's titled “Pilot Guide Small Aircraft Ground Deicing” .

 

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I agree with the idea of putting the aircraft in a heated hangar.

As a teenager in the late 60s, my car was relegated to being parked outside.  Most winter mornings, the car had frost on it.  I wish that the frost on the windshield could have been removed with a soft brush, but that was never my experience.  I always had to use an ice scraper.  I also remember when my dad tried to deice the windshield on his car in the 50s by pouring hot water on it.  The resulting honeycomb of shattered glass left a lasting impression.  There is a difference between hot water and Type I deicing fluid.  I would never attempt to remove any snow, ice or frost with water.

I would also take the guidance in 135-17 with a grain of salt.  It was last revised in 1994.

In 2006, the FAA published SAFO 06014 recommending avoiding polishing frost unless the aircraft manufacturer developed an “explicit, approved procedure for doing so”.

On February 1, 2010, there was a rule change for 91.527 (Large Aircraft), 125, & 135.  The summary in the rule change states  ”The FAA is removing certain provisions in its regulations that allow for operations with "polished frost" (i.e., frost polished to make it smooth) on the wings and stabilizing and control surfaces of aircraft. The rule is expected to increase safety by not allowing operations with "polished frost," which the FAA has determined increases the risk of unsafe flight.

While the rules don’t apply to small Part 91 aircraft, the concept does.  I always say “You can break regulations, but you can’t violate the laws of physics.”

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Ive done this on ferry flights, rubbing alcohol and towels from walmart did the trick!

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Outside of work which we do it all the time, I think I’ve had to deice twice in the GA world (don’t get that very often in my area of the sunshine state). First time was a freak cold morning in which happened to be the day I took my ATP checkride 😳, and the second was ferrying a plane across the country and the FBO failed to put it in the hangar like I asked and payed for for the night at the halfway point.

 Anyway, those two times I had to do that was just frost on the top surfaces and a soft broom was surprisingly effective and completely took care of it. Outside of frost though I’d use more official and reliable methods. As someone mentioned, you sure don’t want ice in the hinges or gaps near the control surfaces or flaps. Do yourself a good control surface check too where you can see their movement fully.