As aircraft are often operated in extremely cold temperatures and environments, it is important that there are various means of protecting components from the formation of ice. As ice begins to collect on various components, it can cause damage and deterioration, as well as present the risk of a loss in functionality of a system or component during flight. For propeller powered aircraft, preventing and removing the formation of ice on the propeller assembly is crucial for safety to ensure that blades can properly operate for thrust generation. With aircraft propeller auxiliary systems that function to melt and remove ice from propeller blades and surrounding components, the airfoil sections can be protected for the safety of pilots during flight.
In regards to ice formation and protecting propeller blades from damage and imbalance, both aircraft anti-icing and de-icing systems may be used. With an aircraft anti-icing system, various methods may be used in order to prevent the buildup of ice before it has a chance to form. Within the fuel system, a tank is often in place that contains anti-icing fluid for the propeller. With the use of a pump, fluids are transferred from the tank to each propeller blade. Through a control system, the amount of fluids that is delivered to each propeller can also be adjusted as needed, accommodating for varying amounts of ice that may form. To transfer fluid to the propeller assembly, fluids flow to a nozzle which allows for supply to be given to each propeller shank.
As the propeller spinner and its operation may cause anti-icing fluids to be flung from where they are most needed, the propeller assembly may also utilize feed shoes or boots that are placed on the leading edge. For the fluids that aircraft anti-icing systems use, isopropyl alcohol serves as the lowest cost option with high availability. For reducing flammable hazards or for higher performance, phosphate compounds may also be used. As compared to isopropyl alcohol, however, phosphate compounds typically run higher in price and thus are not as commonly used.
When ice has formed on the propeller assembly, or one wishes to use other methods to prevent formation, aircraft de-icing systems may be relied upon. With an electrical propeller-icing control system, electronics are used to provide heat to the propeller blades. To achieve this, a variety of heating elements are installed both inside and on the propeller spinner and blades, and electrical power is provided to the hub with leads. With lines terminating with slip rings and brushes, heat can be efficiently spread throughout the assembly.
With an electronic aircraft de-icing system, control is operated through switches that are governed by the pilot. For more in-depth control beyond the basic master switch, pilots may also be able to toggle heating for each propeller and sometimes can even control the amount of heat provided. The heating of blades is often dictated on a timer or with a cycling unit, and such components ensure that proper amounts are given to each blade. With a brush block component, the electricity is transferred to the slip ring for deicing. As anti-icing systems can often add weight to the aircraft and are limited to the amount of fluid stored within the tank, many modern aircraft and operators choose to utilize the electric de-icing system instead for its benefits.
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