A deicing boot is an important component involved in removing ice from the exterior of an aircraft. It is a type of ice deterrent system that enables mechanical deicing while an aircraft is in flight. Deicing boots are typically installed on the outer edge of a wing, where the likelihood to accumulate ice is much greater. A buildup of ice can significantly impair the aerodynamics of an aircraft, leading to safety risks.
Its design consists of a thick rubber surface that is then installed over a specific area of the wing, similar to a rubber membrane. As ice accrues, compressed air fills the boot, dislodging ice that has accumulated. From there, the air travels through a pressure regulator followed by a flow control valve. The ice is then blown away naturally and the boots are deflated to their normal shape. Deicing boots are operated manually or by a timer that is controlled by the pilot of the aircraft.
Deicing boots require routine inspection and maintenance. A regular engine cleaning schedule is not only beneficial to the appearance of the aircraft, but also aids in detecting problematic equipment early on. The general condition of the boots should be analyzed during inspection and any damaged area should be repaired immediately. Small cuts are common in deicing boots and tend to enlarge during flight. This damage poses the risk of water entering the boot and subsequently freezing, preventing it from operating properly.
Patching the deicing boot is a relatively easy procedure that can save on costs in the future. Thoroughly clean the area that is scuffed, then apply the repair patch. Patches are designed with a pressure-sensitive adhesive on its backside. Gone are the days of having to apply glue to the boot and the patch. In areas of excessive damage, it may be better to replace the boot entirely.
Replacing an old boot isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Line up the centerline of the new boot with the centerline of the old boot. Once the old boot has been removed, the old adhesive needs to be removed as well. Inspect the surface for any damaged areas or visible corrosion. Damaged areas need to be repaired before installing the new boot. All corrosion element, no matter the severity, should be repaired. Minor corrosion can escalate into major structural rework.
Once the surface is prepped, apply the adhesive in two layers. Let the first layer dry before applying the second one. When the adhesives polyureth have dried, the boot is ready for installation. The first area that needs to be glued down is the two ends of the boot, followed up by the centerline. If you are patient during the installation process, you will end up with a nice, smooth, finished deicing boot.