The US Air Force’s (USAF) 92nd Maintenance Group has installed a new simulator to help the airmen conduct de-icing training without using actual de-icing equipment and costly resources.
Resembling a video game with controls that are an exact replica of the controls in the de-icing cab, the de-icer simulator features a variety of capabilities and settings enabling airmen to de-ice or anti-ice in different environments.
Airmen can change the time of day, amount of snow, adjust the weather, and add wind as a factor.
92nd MXG Maintenance Qualification Training programme instructor staff sergeant Tyler Mousner said: "Because of the cost of de-icing / anti-icing fluid, new Airmen have been unable to get good hands-on training during winter months.
"The Federal Aviation Administration Clean Water Act also requires us to recover the fluid which also cost money.
"Now they will be able to train indoors and gain proficiency before de-icing on the flightline.
"This new training tool not only will save de-icing fluid, diesel gas and manpower, but also contribute to less wear and tear on our vehicles, resulting in less vehicle maintenance."
92nd MXG Development Element NCO in charge technical sergeant Chris Runge said: "It allows them to get to a level they wouldn’t normally get to in a short time period."
The simulator can also be accessed by airmen with requirement to keep proficiency during summer months.
Currently, the aircraft de-icing process includes even distribution of the de-icing fluid over the desired area, followed by the spraying of anti-ice fluid over the region within the next three minutes.
92nd MXG MQTP instructor technical sergeant David Lamb said: "The Air Force policy is that pilots will not take off with ice, snow or frost adhering to the wings, controls surfaces, engine inlets or other critical surfaces of the aircraft.
"Tests have proven that ice, snow, or frost formations having a thickness and surface roughness similar to medium or coarse sandpaper on the leading edge and upper surface of a wing can reduce wind lift up to 30%, and increase drag up to 40%.
"If anything is left on the plane it can interfere with the aircraft’s lift and be potentially dangerous."
Image: USAF staff sergeant Tyler Mousner uses the de-icing simulator at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, US. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / Sgt Veronica Montes.