JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. - Snow hits the ground and covers the flight line, but the mobility mission must go on.
The 605th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron works through less-than-ideal weather conditions to ensure the 305th Air Mobility Wing’s mobility mission continues.
Aircraft deicing has come a long way in recent years said Master Sgt. Kenyon Blough 605th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron lead production superintendent.
Aircraft maintainers would historically drive simple cherry pickers to the aircraft, and spray them down with hoses from the bucket. Maintainers now use global deicing trucks, which have an enclosed compartment to control the automated deicing nozzle, said Blough.
The 605th AMXS’s service members ensure all aircraft here are free of frost and ice shortly before takeoff during the winter months.
“We hold a meeting regarding the snow a week or two before the first predicted snowfall,” said Blough. “We schedule deicing teams and ensure the global deicing trucks are postured for use.”
Deicing teams comprise three-man teams: a global deicing truck driver, a spotter on the ground and a bucket operator who controls the deicing nozzle.
The deicing nozzle , which looks like a water gun, uses a combination of hot air and Type 1 deicing fluid to accomplish the mission.
“It’s even more effective when propelled by hot air making the device twice as efficient as past technology,” said Blough. “Deicing fluid is more efficient at melting ice and in turn more cost effective.”
A team sets out to deice an aircraft in the one-hour window prior to takeoff. The deicing team is notified by the maintenance operating center anytime there is frozen precipitation on an aircraft.
Staff Sgt. Steven Betz, 605th AMXS flying crew chief, described a typical deicing sequence.
“The operator begins spraying at the aircraft’s nose and works his way to the tail,” said Betz. “We let gravity help us on our mission spraying from the top and moving down. We focus on critical areas including the flight controls and hydraulic systems as these are crucial to flight. The spotter on the ground ensures the sprayer doesn’t miss any areas he might not have the best view of. We then finish by coating the aircraft in Type 4 anti-icing fluid.”
Type 4 anti-icing fluid is a liquid agent which prevents the plane from icing over again before takeoff, whereas Type 1 deicing fluid is solely used for the initial deicing.
The aircrew then double checks the aircraft to ensure we did a thorough job,” said Betz.
The squadron may have to defrost the aircraft again if needed prior to takeoff. The squadron's job is done after the plane departs
“It takes a great deal of coordination to accomplish the timely process, from the superintendents all the way down to the truck operators,” said Betz.