Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ON-WINGS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 233838
Funded under: FP7-TRANSPORT

Improved ice detection for safer aircraft

Icing of aircraft structures is a major safety concern. EU-funded scientists have developed a distributed sensor network promising greater accuracy and capability for ice detection, localisation and removal.
Improved ice detection for safer aircraft
Aircraft flying in cold and humid air, particularly at low altitudes, are subject to rapid ice formation that disturbs air flow and handling, potentially causing fatal accidents. Loss of control due to ice formation is an increasingly important problem as traffic increases force aircraft to spend more time in low-altitude holding patterns.

Current aircraft ice protection technologies have several disadvantages. All depend on reliable ice detection, yet most sensors are located remotely from the surfaces that actually accumulate ice. Further, they cannot distinguish among the different types of ice with characteristics that affect flight in different ways. Scientists have now developed optical technology relying on integrated and localised sensors in structures-of-interest that overcome these drawbacks with EU support of the project 'On wing ice detection and monitoring system' (ON-WINGS).

The ON-WINGS sensor can be flush-mounted on any structure, including safety-critical wings, rotor blade or engine nacelle. It uses optical fibres to emit light into the ice and measure the light returned. Novel data measurement technology facilitates determination of the presence, thickness and type of ice. Multiple sensors can be applied in a distributed network. An intelligent ice protection controller can then activate individual zones of an electrothermal ice protection system (IPS) to enhance effectiveness while reducing power consumption.

ON-WINGS ice detection technology provides a substantial improvement in accuracy, reliability and flexibility compared to conventional IPSs for critical aerodynamic surfaces. Its commercialisation promises important enhancements in aviation safety that will simultaneously lower fuel consumption and maintenance needs, increase performance, and reduce emissions. This will also reduce the contribution of the aerospace industry to climate change.

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top