Questions About Icing

I was just FaceTiming with my aunt, helping her plan aviation- related logistics for her trip in January to see the Northern Lights in Greenland. It’s pretty complicated, as it involves a flight from Boston to Paris, then to Copenhagen, then to Kangerlussuaq. She has to get to aasiaat with Air Greenland for her tour.

Anyways, I advised her to build in a night in Kangerlussuaq, because with Greenlandic weather, especially in the winter, you just never know what could happen with your flight.

This got me thinking about weather conditions in the wintertime that far north that could impact travel, and the topic of icing raised some questions I hoped y’all could answer:

  • How does the onboard anti ice system actually work?
  • What are the differences between the types of anti ice applied to aircraft before takeoff?
  • How exactly does icing affect flight operations? I know it has something to do with drag, but I’m not so sure beyond that.

Thank you in advance!

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Is there a reason she could not go direct to Copenhagen on SAS? They operate their A321neo from Boston to Copehagen. I only know this because it is one of those flights that has made me think how insane it is for a narrow body to go that long.

Anti-icing systems are designed for activation before the aircraft enters icing conditions to prevent the formation of ice. Most anti-ice systems rely on heat to evaporate the liquid water when it strikes the protected surface . In turbine-powered aircraft, engine bleed air is commonly used to supply the required heat.

De-icing fluids in comparison to the aircraft’s de-icing system works by spraying a heated chemical fluid that melts off the ice. Then the application of anti-icing fluid keeps ice from forming again.

Ice collects on and seriously hampers the function of not only wings and control surfaces and propellers, but also windscreens and canopies, radio antennas, pilot tubes and static vents, carburetors and air intakes. Turbine engines are especially vulnerable.

Essentially, it’s that the ice limits the functionality of the aircraft’s systems and control surfaces

The source of all 3 responses is directly taken from the very top of the search results for your exact questions, google is a nice friend. :)

aka, Wikipedia,, and


Yes! She has some close friends who live just outside Paris, who she’s meeting at CDG and flying the rest of the way with.

I don’t think she knew about the SAS flight. Besides, isn’t is seasonal?


SAS Operates BOS-CPH year-round every day excluding Tuesdays.


Got it. I’ll ask her, but I think she’s really set on the idea of meeting her friends in Paris.

Side of the fridge warm regards


Air Greenland probably has lots of experience with icy conditions, so you shouldn’t worry about their ability to clear ice off of the aircraft.


Yeah, I was more concerned about the winds Greenland is notorious for, especially in the winter. I just was thinking of icing afterwords in the sense that it’s also adverse winter weather.

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