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View Full Version : Light Piston Airplane Icing

06-14-2017, 05:01 PM
Been doing some reading up on light airplane icing, but the books only go so far. Additionally I haven't really flown in any myself (in the small planes). So I just had some questions for those on the forum who have experience with it.

My first question is, in your experience, what is the order of components to get iced up? We basically have tail plane icing, wing icing, windshield icing, propeller icing, Pitot tube icing, antenna icing, intake icing... there might be a couple of others but these are the big ones. Have you noticed an order to these consistently? It seems like the Pitot tube and antennas are vulnerable for obvious reasons, but I don't hear about a lot of antennas icing up and breaking off. I understand that tail plane icing normally occurs before the wing due to the smaller radius of the leading edge. How does the prop stack into this? I've heard conflicting perspectives, some of which cite kinetic heating due to high rotational velocity delaying the onset of ice, others say that the thin blade of the prop is more susceptible to ice than other components.

A second question is, what's the deal with fuel vent heat? Seems like very few airplanes (concerning FIKI airplanes) are equipped with this, the only one I can think of is the Beechcraft Baron. Is it just on the Baron due to its bladder fuel tanks (if I remember correctly) to prevent them from collapsing if the fuel vent ices up?

Look forward to hearing from the experience of those on the forum. Thanks.

06-17-2017, 12:13 PM
Every airplane is different, but there will be a pattern.
Generally, the skinny surfaces (temp probes, antenna) will get iced up first. If you have a turkey temp probe in your windshield, that's a great first indication. The unheated part of your windshield is another good place.

Most airplanes, it's difficult to see the tail plane.

Prop spinners and wing mounted radomes are also early accumulators.

Windshield wipers are great ice catchers.

As for which airplanes have fuel vent heaters, that will depend on aerodynamics. Some vents are mounted in a way to make ice accumulation unlikely.