Snow and ice on a plane, can change the aerodynamics of the wing, creating possible problems due to excessive weight, or affect the proper functioning of the control surfaces. It is therefore necessary to de-ice strategic areas such as the wings and tail, for example, with the exception of the nose where a commercial aircraft’s radar is located.
It is 7:00 am, down on the tarmac at Montreal airport in Canada, the temperature is 14°F (-10°C). By order of the pilots, the aircraft have to go through the de-icing centre; an essential operation that takes an average of two to five minutes per plane.
For that, the personnel use ethylene glycol, a liquid similar to car anti-freeze for winter use. Heated to 355°F (180°C), the product helps to melt ice or snow on the aircraft, and remain effective for several hours after application.
De-icing an airplane typically occurs as soon as temperatures drop below zero, or when snow falls. Every winter, the Air Canada ''De-icing'' bill is around $ 4 million.