Chances are, if you live in the colder countries of the world, you’ve had to de-ice something in your life. De-icing is critical - the safety and usability of an engineered product often depends on it.

Engineering in the aviation industry is a point in case. Airports are an interdisciplinary hub of engineering activity as are the planes; minutes before a plane takes off it has to go through the process of de-icing.

The wings and the tail of the aircraft need particular attention - they play an integral role in the aerodynamics of an airplane. If a plane flies into cold temperatures with no de-icing, extra weight burdens the wings. This video illustrates the process of de-icing.

In Chicago, Southwest Airlines had to cancel flights because of a shortage of de-icing fluid - 200 flights were affected.

The pitfalls associated with ice build-up on aircrafts have been highlighted in Russia this week. First responders found a grisly scene on Sunday the 11th of February 2018. A plane from Moscow, flying to Orsk, crashed soon after takeoff; 71 casualties were reported. Experts say that icing may have caused the anti-ice system to collapse, resulting in ice forming in the engine. These claims are still unverified; but experts agree that improper de-icing may have caused issues.

Inadequate de-icing has been the cause of Russian plane crashes before. In 2012 failure to de-ice a passenger plane before takeoff led to a crash that led to 31 casualties. Experts suggest the same may have occurred with Flight 6W 703. However, engine fire, speed sensor failure, and pilot error were also given as possible reasons for the crash.

Aviation authorities, talking to Kommersant newspaper, described the plane’s attempt to ascend:

“Having climbed to an approximate altitude of 1,800 meters, at a speed of about 600 kilometers per hour, the plane suddenly nosedived to an altitude of 1,500 meters, climbed again, and then fell on the ground.”

The newspaper also claims that the pilot had refused a de-icing procedure before takeoff.


Works Cited

“Plane Crash Kills 71 near Moscow: This Is What Is Known about the Disaster.” RT International, www.rt.com/news/418490-saratov-airlines-crash-summary/.

Sudakov, Dmitry. “Experts Name Reasons That Led to the Crash of the An-148 near Moscow.” PravdaReport, Pravdareport, 12 Feb. 2018, www.pravdareport.com/hotspots/crimes/12-02-2018/140002-an_148_crash-0/.

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