Icing on aircraft of all types can cause crippling issues. For rotorcraft in particular, icing is a difficult problem to address. According to an article from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), icing is particularly problematic for rotorcraft because (1) they have exposed flight-control linkages, (2) they have more equipment exposed to the airstream, (3) they generally have more exposed rivets, fairings, and hinges, and (4) they operate at lower altitudes than planes and are less capable of climbing out of bad conditions. As a result, operating rotorcraft in icing conditions can be especially dangerous. An article from Air Med & Rescue magazine estimates 10-15% of all rotorcraft missions are aborted in the winter months due to icing hazards. These are often search-and-rescue missions, meaning an aborted mission is directly putting people’s lives at risk. There are also negative effects for all sorts of military operations in cold climates.
Elemental Coatings is aware of these issues, and we’re excited to begin applying our technology to help make rotorcraft operations safer and more effective in cold weather. In collaboration with The Boeing Co and supported by an award from the AFWERX STTR Program, Elemental Coatings is developing a one-of-a-kind new anti-icing solution for rotorcraft blades. This builds off of prior demonstrations using Elemental Coatings’ technology in the aerospace industry. This is a difficult problem, and we are looking forward to tackling it!