Maintenance Matters

November 2008 Issue

The Fight Against Ice: TKS Still the Top Choice

Electrothermal deicing looked promising, but it hasnít delivered. TKS is effective in all conditions and although getting fluid is a bother, it still beats boots.

Inflight icing is as hazardous as it has ever been, but it doesnít hide the same demons it once did, which is another way of saying there are fewer icing accidents than there used to be. One reason is that owners are flying less and maybe flying in less icy weather, too. But forecasting technology has improved andómaybe the big oneómore airplanes than ever (especially singles) are carrying deicing equipment. And where pneumatic boots used to be the only choice, now there are two others: TKS liquid deicing and, recently, electrically heated surface deicing. Obviously, the technology has moved forward, but are the latest developments any better than the original rubber boot? The short answer is yes, but the detailed answer is that electrical deicing for light aircraft has proven disappointing. (Cessna has dropped it for the 350/400 series aircraft it acquired from Columbia.) Given these developments, which deice system is the most cost effective and least maintenance intensive? And if flight into known icing is your wont, should you buy an airplane based on which system it has?

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