CORDIS - EU research results

SENSors and certifiable hybrid architectures FOR safer aviation in ICing Environment

Project description

A hot idea could protect aircraft from a very cold threat

Supercooled large droplets (SLD) are a particularly insidious form of water when it comes to air travel. They remain liquid at temperatures below 0 °C but in an unstable state. They are also less likely to be deflected by airflow around the aircraft. When an SLD encounters an aerofoil surface, the portion touching the aerofoil freezes, but the rest remains liquid. It is blown back over the surface, freezing as the first contact point did until the whole drop has frozen, creating a smooth layer of ice over the surface that is very difficult to remove. The EU-funded SENS4ICE project is developing a novel sensor system to detect ice formation before it becomes dangerous to flight. It leverages a combination of direct and indirect techniques including monitoring both ice accretion on the airframe and atmospheric conditions.


Modern aeroplanes are well equipped to cope with most common icing conditions. However, some conditions consisting of supercooled large droplets (SLD) have been the cause of tragic accidents over the last three decades. It was proven that there are certain types of aircraft which are not robust against these conditions as ice can form on unprotected areas of the lifting surfaces leading to loss of control. Consequently, authorities addressed these safety concerns by issuing new certification rules under Appendix O to ensure that future aircraft remain controllable in these conditions and can exit safely upon detection. Hence, the key to increasing overall aviation icing safety is the early and reliable detection of icing conditions to allow the necessary actions to be taken by the flight crew. SENS4ICE (SENSors and certifiable hybrid architectures for safer aviation in ICing Environment) directly addresses this need for reliable detection and discrimination of icing conditions. It proposes that an intelligent way to cope with the complex problem of ice detection is the hybridisation of different detection techniques: direct sensing of atmospheric conditions and/or ice accretion on the airframe, combined with indirect techniques in which the change of aircraft characteristics with ice accretion on the airframe is detected. SENS4ICE will address the development, test, validation, and maturation of the different detection principles, the hybridisation - in close cooperation with regulators to provide an acceptable means of compliance - and the final airborne demonstration of technology capabilities in relevant natural icing conditions. The contribution of SENS4ICE to increase aviation safety will be achieved by an international consortium of 20 partners (13 EU, 7 non-EU) with contributions from Brazil, Canada, Russia and the US. The 4-year project requests an overall EU-funding of 6.6M€ and benefits from a further 5.4M€ of activities being provided by the non-EU partners.

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Net EU contribution
€ 1 600 912,81
51147 Koln

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Nordrhein-Westfalen Köln Köln, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 1 600 912,81

Participants (20)