Due to security reasons, de- icing of airplanes is crucial. Ice and snow increase the weight of the airplane and thus have a negative impact on its aerodynamics.
Ice detection and quantification on airplanes (especially small airplanes in air traffic) has not been sufficiently solved yet.
There are several de- icing options before and during flight, but due to limited detection systems, these techniques have to be operated conservatively and over- complicated. This, of course, has negative effects on energy efficiency and fuel consumption. In general aviation, pilots have to visually inspect and assess ice on the wings and other important parts (for example sensors and air vents). This has to happen not only before, but also during flight.
Scalable system to control several de- icing systems
eologix has set the goal to adapt the reliable and promising ice- detection technology, already successfully used in wind power systems, to aviation. In a multi- annual research project, sponsored by the FFG, in collaboration with the Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt, the FH Joanneum GmbH and the Villinger GmbH, the feasibility of a retrofittable system for ice detection has been positively evaluated.
This system can not only be flexibly mounted and scaled, but also used to control different de- icing systems.
Accurate measurement, retrofittable and flexible
Commercially available systems for anti- and de- icing of airplanes need the actual ice thickness as control variable. Ice sensors, that are currently being used, are usually based on indirect measurement methods of ice detection (oscillating, icing bar, for example). Usually the mounting position of these sensors is far away from the aerodynamic areas, that have to be supervised, such as the leading edge of the wing or the inlet scrolls. Furthermore, the available ice sensors are relatively imprecise and cannot distinguish between different types of ice (rime ice, transparent ice). To prevent icing, there are several different principles, such as pneumatic elements on the wing leading edge, chemical or (electro-) thermic de-icing systems, which can directly be integrated into the airplane structure.