What temperature do planes need to deice?

What temperature do planes need to deice?

De-icing Planes: An In-Depth Look at Ensuring Airborne Safety

What Caused The Concorde To Crash?

De-icing is a critical operation for maintaining aircraft safety in sub-zero conditions. Ice or snow accumulation on an aircraft’s wings and tail can have severe consequences, including reduced lift and increased drag, potentially leading to disastrous outcomes.


A U.S. Gulfstream G550 gets deiced before departing Alaska in January 2012

From B-52 bombers to Boeing 737s and Gulfstream private jets, every aircraft type has its specific needs when it comes to de-icing. This essay aims to delve into the intricacies of de-icing planes, discussing the variables that dictate this process, including temperatures, timing, materials used, and costs.

Temperature Factors

De-icing usually becomes considered essential when temperatures fall below freezing (0°C or 32°F). However, the specific temperature at which de-icing becomes necessary can vary based on aircraft type and the conditions in which they operate. For instance:

  • B-52 Bombers: These military aircraft become designed to operate in extreme conditions. And have more robust tolerance to icy conditions, although they still require de-icing at around -10°C (14°F).
  • Boeing 737: Commercial aircraft like the 737 have less tolerance for icy conditions. De-icing generally becomes initiated at temperatures just below freezing.
  • Gulfstream Jets: These private jets also operate under commercial aviation standards, requiring de-icing at temperatures similar to those for the Boeing 737.

Time Required for De-icing

The time taken to de-ice an aircraft varies depending on its size, the equipment used, and the severity of the ice or snow accumulation. Typically:

  • B-52 Bombers: Can take up to an hour due to their large surface area and complexity.
  • Boeing 737: Usually takes between 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Gulfstream Jets: Due to their smaller size, can often become de-iced in under 10 minutes.

Materials and Procedure

Traditionally, a mixture of propylene glycol or ethylene glycol. In addition water used for de-icing. This mixture becomes sprayed onto the aircraft’s surface at high pressure and elevated temperatures to remove ice and snow.

  • Step 1: Inspection to identify the areas requiring de-icing.
  • Step 2: The aircraft is moved to a designated de-icing area to avoid contaminating the runway.
  • Step 3: De-icing fluid is sprayed using specialized trucks equipped with elevated platforms to reach all parts of the aircraft.
  • Step 4: Post-application inspection to ensure complete removal of ice and snow.

Cost of De-icing

The cost of de-icing can vary widely based on the size of the aircraft and the severity of the conditions. On average, the cost can range from a few hundred dollars for smaller jets to thousands for larger commercial aircraft. This cost includes the price of the de-icing fluid, which can be up to $5 per gallon, and the labor involved. Military aircraft like the B-52 may incur higher costs due to their specialized requirements.


De-icing is an essential safety procedure that is rigorously carried out across all aircraft types, from military bombers to commercial and private jets. Various factors, such as operating temperatures, materials used, and associated costs, make each de-icing operation unique. Understanding these variables is crucial for maintaining the safety and efficiency of air travel in icy conditions.

What temperature do planes need to deice?

It’s cool – and best practice – to deice a plane – Wheels Up (slcairport.com)

airline operations – When is deicing required? – Aviation Stack Exchange

Does every plane need deicing? The safety measure was not always standard (foxweather.com)