January 18, 2006

Oslo Gets Europe’s First Infra-Red Plane De-Icer

OSLO -- Europe's first airliner de-icing machine using infra-red heatwaves opened at Oslo airport on Wednesday, aiming to cut costs and protect the environment.

"Norway's biggest grill opened today," quipped Ola Strand, Norwegian head of ground services at Scandinavian airline SAS which will run the de-icing hangar built by U.S.-based Radiant Energy Corp.

Planes will drive through the hangar as heatwaves from the roof melt ice on the planes to avoid the dangers of ice getting sucked into the engines on takeoff. In New York, a similar system has been in use at Newark airport since 1999.

SAS will study whether the system could save money and protect the environment by reducing use of glycols, currently sprayed on planes for de-icing. The chemicals can harm plants and animals if not sucked up from the tarmac.

Strand told Reuters that two de-icing hangars could probably handle all of the 8,000 planes that take off every winter from Oslo airport, reducing use of glycols by perhaps 50-70 percent and replacing many of the 15 spraying vehicles.

Radiant says the heatwaves do not damage the surface of the plane, which gets no hotter than if it were standing outside on a warm day.

An SAS plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Stockholm on December 27 1991 after ice was sucked into the engines. The crash was known as the "Christmas Miracle" because all 129 people aboard survived.