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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedIce protection market heats up
By James Wynbrandt, EAA AirVenture Today

August 2, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin  - It could be the product with the ultimate “cool factor” at AirVenture: anti-icing equipment.

General aviation systems today go beyond rubber pneumatic boots, including fluid- and thermal-based solutions.

And pilots may need this equipment more than they realize.

No matter how much you say you’re not going to get into ice, unless you’re not planning on flying from October to April, you can pick up ice,” said Red Berry, sales manager of TKS, for CAV Aerospace of Salina, Kansas, manufacturer of the TKS anti-icing system.

TKS is a “weeping wing” system that pumps de-icing fluid through the porous, laser-drilled holes in titanium panels adorning the leading edges of the wings, empennage, and at the base of the windshield. The panels sport about 800 laser-drilled holes per square inch.

At the first hint of icing conditions, pilots engage the system, and the fluid seeps through the pores to prevent ice accumulation. Several companies make the fluid, which will not harm paint or metal. A full TKS system can operate for one to three hours, depending on the installation and the flow setting. A fully loaded TKS system weighs between 80 and 100 pounds.

TKS is available as a factory option on aircraft including Mooneys, Bonanzas, Cirruses, Cessna Caravans, and Diamond DA42s, where it may enable the aircraft to be certified for flight into known icing (FIKI) conditions as it is on Cirrus and Mooney models. (Even the Predator is equipped with TKS, according to Berry.) As an aftermarket installation, TKS is certified only for hazard prevention, but that can still be a lifesaver.

All aftermarket installations are performed at the company’s Salina facility. Costs for aftermarket installation range from $27,600 for a Cessna 182 to $42,300 for a Beechcraft Bonanza. Installation takes about three weeks. (www.WeepingWings.com).

Kelly Aerospace of Montgomery, Alabama, offers ThermaWing, a thermal anti-icing system. An outgrowth of NASA research, ThermaWing uses lightweight electrically conductive foil on the leading edges of wings and empennage. When engaged the foil heats to shed ice and prevents accumulation.

Just prior to AirVenture, Kelly received an STC (supplemental type certificate) for retrofit installations on aircraft equipped with TKS anti-ice systems, said Jeremy Heidinger, director of maintenance and new product installation at Kelly Aerospace. The system is also certified for hazard prevention for factory installation on Cessna Corvalis 300, 350, and 400 models, and Heidinger says eventually these installations will be approved for FIKI.

“It’s simply a matter of time and money,” Heidinger said of FIKI approval.

Retrofit on the Corvalis is $27,500 and requires 10 business days. (http://KellyAerospace.com).

The thermal anti-icing system is also available through RDD Enterprises for Lancair ES, Legacy, Lancair IV, and propjet experimental aircraft under the name Therm-X (www.RDDent.com).

As pilots seek ways to make their aircraft as mission capable as possible, the anti-icing market is sure to heat up further.

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