Winter has come, and snow is piled up all over the country. While most are busy digging out their cars, the U.S. Air Force is making sure that runways are clear and that its fleet is properly deiced.
Over at the Fairchild Air Force Base in the state of Washington, the 92nd Maintenance Group is doing just that. And to keep their skills sharp and costs down, Airmen are training with an aircraft deicing simulator.
The simulator exactly replicates a real deicing truck’s controls and can be programed to emulate a variety of conditions like time of day, snow level, and wind speed.
“Because of the cost of deicing/anti-icing fluid, new Airmen have been unable to get good hands-on training during winter months,” Staff Sgt. Tyler Mousner said in an Air Force press release. “Now they will be able to train indoors and gain proficiency before deicing on the flightline.”
The simulator will allow Airmen to train in the summertime, the Air Force says. Additionally, virtual training avoids avoids any unnecessary wear on real equipment.
Deicing aircraft is a complex and necessary task. “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 percent and increase drag up to 40 percent,” Tech. Sgt. David Lamb said. “If anything is left on the plane it can interfere with the aircraft’s lift and be potentially dangerous.”
Here is a video that details the deicing process in Minot Air Force Base, ND. It looks cold, very cold. Being able to practice indoors seems like a good, warm option.