An airplane’s wing is designed to create lift, but ice and snow can change the wing’s shape. If you ever been delayed for de-icing, you’ll be happy to know that it makes takeoff possible in wintry conditions.
Wing shapes are designed to generate lift. This keeps the plane in the air. Ice and snow can build up on planes. Ice buildup can change the shape of the wing. This could cause the wing to function the wrong way and make takeoff difficult and dangerous. It’s not uncommon to see planes being sprayed before takeoff.
The spray is a heated mixture of glycol and water. It has a lower freezing temperature than just water. This breaks off ice already formed and prevents more from building up. This fluid is good for 1 to 1.5 hours. On takeoff, the fluid slides off the wing and the plane takes off normally. However, it’s not the only de-icer a plane uses. At high altitudes the air is always cold, even in summer.
Most planes have heating systems to prevent ice buildup. Hot air from the engines can be routed to other areas. Some planes have electronic heaters to keep the wings warm. Next time you’re delayed for “de-icing,” … rest assured the delay is worth the safe flight.