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De-icing crucial before taking flight


Farah Dhalla, reporter
January 15, 2013 — Airport security conducts a series of safety checks and procedures prior to take off, but in the winter time there is one more procedure that may delay your flight.


De-icing is performed at airports where temperatures fall below freezing
De-icing is performed at airports where temperatures fall below freezing

Spraying thousands of gallons of chemical fluid onto the aircraft is crucial before it can fly. 

This process is called de-icing and is performed at airports where temperatures fall below freezing.

“As a northern city we do a lot of de-icing here in Edmonton. So we start early and go late. Edmonton or Calgary we de-ice 5 months a year,” says Steve Maybee, Director of Airport Operations. 

If large pieces of ice separate when the aircraft is in motion, they can be ingested in engines or hit propellers and cause a crash.

“It’s integral, if the aircraft has too much ice on the wings it won’t get into flight and it’s bad news after that," adds Maybee.

The de-icing procedure delays the reformation of ice for a certain period of time by lowering the point at which water freezes over on the planes surface.

If the aircraft has too much ice on the wings it won’t get into flight
If the aircraft has too much ice on the wings it won’t get into flight

In December of 2009, the mercury dipped to a frigid -46°C at the Edmonton airport. With the wind chill it felt more like -59 making it the coldest place in North America and second coldest in the world, next to Siberia.

But due to the airport’s state of the art de-icing process the weather had minimal impact on departures that day. 

This winter however, airport authority say they've had to do more de-icing than ever before. 

"We've done over 4000 aircrafts, over a million litres of glycol, we’re on pace of double what we've done in past years," says Maybee. 

De-icing may take 10 to 30 minutes to complete, but is crucial before taking flight.

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