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How an aircraft gets deiced

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What does the pilot acctually do in order to get his aircraft deiced (on stand deicing, not remote decing)? Does he contact the Handling, or just speak to the ground personnel? And when the deicing trucks acctually get to the Aircraft, do they communicate to each others via the Handeling frequency, the deicing frequency, or just via the interphone?

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- Mark Manacsa

Most of the flight simulation community is pretty toxic and gets easily worked up about little things. Just go into it knowing that.

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The procedure depends to a large extent upon the airport. The ICAO and other aviation bodies have guidelines on the recommended procedures. Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of airport authorities to come up with a 'winter operations plan' which is usually published in either the official 'aerodrome guide' or as an extra winter supplement to that guide. It's that guide which would tell pilots what to do in terms of requesting de-icing. Having said that, not all airports have their own de-icing facilities, and you might be surprised to learn that even some pretty large commercial ones don't have their own facilities, for example, my local airport, EGCC (Manchester International) does not have its own de-icing gear and it therfore recommends airlines use commercial facilities or operate their own service. Some airports expect a lot of icing and naturally they plan for that and have suitable facilities (KJFK - John F Kennedy International - is one).


Either way, typically, the P1 (Captain) will inspect the aircraft, or occasionally tell the F/O to do it on the walk around (rank has its priveleges lol, especially in cold weather), although a conscientious Captin would do it him/herself, since from a legal standpoint, it is not the responsibility of the airport to ensure an aircraft is de-iced, it is the aircraft crew's responsibility. If they determine their aircraft needs de-icing, they would either follow the procedures outlined in the winter operations plan, or their own airline plan procedures. Many airports will issue a suitable advisory on their ATIS report if they believe icing conditions are likely to affect aircraft. In flight simming terms, this means that if you want to replicate that, a good place to start would be to find the 'aerodrome guide' for the airport you are flying from. Most aerodrome guides are published online these days as a PDF, although in some cases you have to buy printed copies of them (aviation supply shops will carry them if you want a printed copy).


Typically the operation would be: calling up ATC and requesting de-icing - from the stand, the aircraft would start up an engine, push back, then shut down when at the pushback position and connect a ground power unit and either communicate with the de-icing crew via a wired intercom connection, or radio. Some airports de-ice at the runway hold point, which has the advantage of ensuring the aircraft is still thoroughly aerodynamically clean for take off. There are rules and guidelines on how long you can wait after de-icing before you'd have to have it done again.


Another consideration is the environmental effects as well as how they might affect health and safety procedures, since the liquids used in de-icing are potentially harmful chemicals (and they are often heated up quite a lot too, which might also be a hazard to ground personnel). A lot of airliners have heated leading edges on their wings, but it's the top of the wings which are not heated, that and the moving control surfaces which are the problem, since they could freeze up and jam, they need to be smooth and clear to provide a clean fast airflow and of course be able to move and deploy properly. In addition to this, many modern airliners use the 'lifting body' to provide additional lift (the A380 is a good exmple of that) so it's not just the wings and tailplane which get de-iced on airliners, many of the other bits get sprayed too.


After the operation has been completed, the crew get a 'clear' report from the de-icing crew and they are then good to crank up and go.

Alan Bradbury

Check out my youtube flight sim videos: Here

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Thanks for the answers!


Now, this leads me to question, does the Handling frequency have anything to do with deicing, or what is that frequency for otherwise?


Thanks in advance

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In my experience every airport is different, so to answer your question, you follow the de icing procedure for that airport (and that goes for remote de icing too).


They will use whatever communication method they like, I've spoken to them on a discreet de icing frequency, a company/handling frequency, one place used ground frequency, I've had them on the interphone and I've received a de icing report via ACARS.


I've found if you ask one of the ground agents they'll have a cheat sheet printed out for you or you can try and wade through the airport notes if you've enough time.


Hope this helps,



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