GKN Aerospace has successfully completed a 30-month test programme in the Boeing Research aircraft icing tunnel for its electro-thermal ice protection system (WIPS) that will be used on the Boeing 787.

The testing represents a major development in the FAA certification procedure, and has comprehensively tested the system beyond what is possible in expensive and time-consuming flight trials.

With the completion of the ground testing, the WIPS will start a reduced flight trial programme to prove performance in the air, and is expected to certify in Q2 2008. Electro-thermal ice protection systems remove the need to use hot bleed air from the engines as with traditional anti-icing measures.
This system uses embedded electro-thermal heater mats in the surface to be protected, these mats are made of an advanced composite material which contains a heater element.

Hot gas
An electronic controller monitors the condition of each surface individually and compared to traditional hot gas systems, heat can be locally targeted and finely controlled to avoid icing in very specific areas. This makes electro-thermal systems compatible with modern high performance critical wing designs.
Because bleed air is not being taken from the engines it increases the performance and endurance of the airframe while helping reduce fuel consumption, the simplicity also reduces maintenance task thereby helping minimise aircraft downtime.

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Source: Flight Daily News