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A Novel Solution for Aircraft Washing and De-Icing

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An environmentally friendly approach to aircraft washing and de-icing

The EU-funded Runway-Star project has developed a unique, environmentally friendly and cost-effective platform for de-icing and washing aircraft.

Transport and Mobility

Aviation is one of the most polluting modes of transport today. With air traffic expected to double in the coming decades, the industry is always looking for new ways to cut emissions and become more sustainable. Although much of the focus is on developing alternative jet fuels and improving aircraft design, there are other, simpler ways for the industry to improve its environmental performance. These include aircraft cleaning and de-icing, which are the focus of the EU-funded Runway-Star project. “By addressing the industry’s emission of such chemicals as glycol during de-icing and CO2 during flight, we aim to help make aviation safer, more efficient and more sustainable,” says project communication manager Ms Frøydis Garmo Hovden. The result of this effort is the Multi Solution Gate – a unique platform capable of both de-icing and washing all in a single hangar. A sustainable de-icing process Today’s methods for de-icing an aircraft are time-consuming and often hard to predict. But with the Multi Solution Gate, the process can be completed in just a few minutes, regardless of weather conditions – giving airlines, airport authorities and passengers improved predictability for departure times. To start, the aircraft is pulled into the Multi Solution Gate via an electric, autonomous tug. As the aircraft passes under the first overhead traverse, snow and ice are flushed off the surface of the fuselage using De-Ice Fluid Type I and water. If necessary, under flushing can also be activated to remove any slush that accumulated on the aircraft’s underside during landing. The aircraft then undergoes an inspection and quality assurance cycle, during which any remaining ice and snow are removed. A visual inspection is also conducted. As the aircraft is being pulled out of the Multi Solution Gate, it passes under another overhead mounted traverse where Anti-Icing Fluid Type II is applied to the top of the wings, horizontal and vertical stabiliser, and fuselage roof. “The Multi Solution Gate can reduce the use of de-icing fluid, eliminate wind-borne losses, and improve airport efficiency by reducing the de-icing cycle time,” explains Garmo Hovden. “It also lowers costs, recovers up to 95 % of the excess fluid, and provides full audit trails.” Washing away inefficiencies When not being used for de-icing, the Multi Solution Gate can be switched to cleaning mode. The system offers a brushless wash with high-precision nozzles that wash both over and under the aircraft. The fully automated process reduces what was once a labour-intense process that could take several hours to under 20 minutes. This increase in efficiency means airlines are more likely to regularly wash their aircraft – a move that will result in significant fuel savings. In fact, research shows that flying a clean aircraft can save approximately 1 % in fuel, which equates to savings of nearly EUR 50 000 per aircraft per year. “The Multi Solution Gate is well-positioned to be a game-changer. By motivating airlines to wash their aircraft more frequently, the aviation industry will see an enormous reduction in fuel use and carbon emissions,” adds Garmo Hovden.

Keywords

Runway-Star, MSG Production, aviation, de-icing, aircraft cleaning, Multi Solution Gate, carbon emissions

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