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Three “non-standard” Ways To DeIce An Airliner

“You’re doing it the wrong way!”

There is the right way to deice a plane and many wrong ways.

Deicing a plane correctly is a critical preflight procedure.  It’s not a tough concept.  The professional way is to spray a heated deicing solution onto the aircraft prior to departure. If frozen precipitation is still occurring, you first deice the aircraft to eliminate the built-up icing/snow, then apply anti-icing fluid to the aircraft to prevent further buildup.  Anti-ice provides the pilot just enough time to get airborne (and presumably above the frozen precipitation) without any additional buildup of ice on the critical surfaces of the aircraft.

For reference, this is what a proper deicing procedure looks like (courtesy of Southwest Airlines):

Why is deicing important?

Airplanes fly because the wings of airplanes produce lift. Every take-off and landing calculation is based on the airplane’s wings being free of any debris and ice. Ice inhibits flight in two ways. Wings cannot produce the required amount of lift when the airflow is disturbed by ice buildup on the wings. Even a thin layer of frost with the thickness of sandpaper can produce so much drag that takeoff at typical speeds and runway lengths might be impossible. Additionally, ice is heavy.  Ice can add thousands of pounds to the weight of an airliner.

Top 3 non-standard ways to deice:

3.) Using a water cooler of water

We get it.  There are probably rare situations in typically warm locations where ice on the wings might catch the ground crew and pilots by surprise. In these rare cases, you might see crews brushing the snow off of the wings or delaying departure until the sun melts the ice.  What you don’t expect to see though is a ground crew haphazardly rolling a water cooler on the wing of a $50M passenger airliner.  It’s not only minimally effective, it’s dumb.

2.) Standing on the tail with a garden sprinkler can

While it might be excusable to lack deicing gear at an airport in tropical climates, it is super odd to not have such gear in Siberia.  Isn’t Siberia the definition of cold? I guess they technically they do have deicing gear there.  They are called humans who are strapped to a crane with sprinkler cans and brooms.

While the means of deicing is super unusual. The aircraft was deiced this way because it was flown from a little used field for restoration.  Video and title screenshot were posted by Linelinnn on YouTube.

1.) Just skip it altogether and pray you don’t die

If you really want to say “deuces” to established safety procedures (that have been written with blood), just skip deicing all together.  That’s what this Pegasus Airlines 737-800 decided to do after a snowfall.  While the aircraft was able to takeoff safely in this case, it ranks as one of the dumbest things a pilot can do.  The pilot effectively became a test pilot with a hundred-plus other test-dummys onboard his/her impromptu test.  Death is a big risk to take for an on-time takeoff.  If you ever see the wings on your jet look like this as you take the active runway, we recommend ringing your call button repeatedly.

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