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New deicing simulator saves money, manpower, increases training

Airmen from the 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work together to deice a KC-135 Stratotanker Jan. 29, 2014, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Aircraft deicing is a process in which liquid solutions are sprayed onto an aircraft during the winter to both defrost and prevent future precipitation from freezing. Snow and ice on the wings and rear tail component change their shape and disrupt the airflow making it difficult to fly and diminishes fuel economy. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Airmen from the 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work together to deice a KC-135 Stratotanker Jan. 29, 2014, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Aircraft deicing is a process in which liquid solutions are sprayed onto an aircraft during the winter to both defrost and prevent future precipitation from freezing. Snow and ice on the wings and rear tail component change their shape and disrupt the airflow making it difficult to fly and diminishes fuel economy. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Staff Sgt. Tyler Mousner uses the deicing simulator Dec. 3, 2014, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. The recently-installed simulator increases training by allowing students to learn how to deice a plane without using costly resources. Mousner is a 92nd Maintenance Group Maintenance Qualification Training program instructor. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes)

Staff Sgt. Tyler Mousner uses the deicing simulator Dec. 3, 2014, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. The recently-installed simulator increases training by allowing students to learn how to deice a plane without using costly resources. Mousner is a 92nd Maintenance Group Maintenance Qualification Training program instructor. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (AFNS) -- With the winter months comes freezing temperatures, snow, frost and ice, but despite the inclement weather the mission continues, making aircraft deicing a main priority for maintainers.

This year, to increase training capabilities and save money and manpower, the 92nd Maintenance Group installed a deicer simulator, allowing Airmen to train without using deicing equipment and costly resources.

"Because of the cost of deicing/anti-icing fluid, new Airmen have been unable to get good hands-on training during winter months," said Staff Sgt. Tyler Mousner, the 92nd MXG Maintenance Qualification Training program instructor. "The Federal Aviation Administration Clean Water Act also requires us to recover the fluid which also cost money. Now they will be able to train indoors and gain proficiency before deicing on the flightline."

The simulator resembles a video game with controls that are an exact replica of the controls in the deicing cab.

"It helps students with muscle memory," said Tech. Sgt. Chris Runge, the 92nd MXG Development Element NCO in charge. "It allows them to get to a level they wouldn't normally get to in a short time period."

The simulator has a variety of capabilities and settings allowing Airmen to deice or anti-ice in different environments. In the program Airmen are able to change the time of day, amount of snow, adjust the weather, and add wind as a factor.

"Weather can be a major factor on the flightline, and depending on the winds, deicing can be different," Mousner said. "It is also very important to be careful to not damage the aircraft. It is also crucial to make sure the whole aircraft is properly deiced to ensure the safety of the passengers aboard."

To properly deice the plane, the deicing fluid must be evenly distributed across the desired area, and then anti-ice fluid must be sprayed over the area within the following three minutes.

"The Air Force policy is that pilots will not take off with ice, snow or frost adhering to the wings, controls surfaces, engine inlets or other critical surfaces of the aircraft," said Tech. Sgt. David Lamb, a 92nd MXG MQTP instructor. "Tests have proven that ice, snow, or frost formations having a thickness and surface roughness similar to medium or coarse sandpaper on the leading edge and upper surface of a wing can reduce wind lift up to 30 percent and increase drag up to 40 percent. If anything is left on the plane it can interfere with the aircraft's lift and be potentially dangerous."

Airmen new to the 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron will have a chance to train on the new simulator and it can also be accessed by Airmen needing to keep proficiency during summer months.

"This new training tool not only will save deicing fluid, diesel gas and manpower, but contributes to less wear and tear on our vehicles, resulting in less vehicle maintenance," Mousner said. "This is very important and will allow new Airmen to gain a better understanding of the job, allowing Fairchild's mission to better continue throughout the winter months."

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