NASA Spinoff

Deicing System Protects General Aviation Aircraft

It is simple to apply and requires far less wattage than standard electrical metal heating systems. The thin laminate system is applied like a tape, and it will bond to any surface of an aircraft where icing might become a problem. The laminate contains the flexible, expanded graphite foil that serves as an electrical and heat conducting layer, that works as effectively as multiple heat conducting layers and layers of electrical insulation. Energy can be controlled across the system, so that certain zones can be heated according to need, an energy-saving measure.

The Thermawing system is currently certified for use as airfoil protection on Columbia 350 and 400 single-engine aircraft, as well as the Beechcraft Baron B55. Kelly Aerospace is continuing to develop systems for other aircraft.

The company has also developed Thermacool, an innovative electric air conditioning system also for use on single-engine, general aviation aircraft. The typical method for cooling these aircraft uses a standard automobile air conditioner compressor, typically running off of a combination of belts hooked to the engine and electric motors, which drew too much energy for their use to be practical while on the ground or idling. Air conditioning in the cabin was available, then, only when the aircraft was airborne. Kelly Aerospace addressed this with a new compressor, whose rotary pump design runs off an energy-efficient, brushless DC motor. This now allows pilots to begin cooling the plane before the engine even starts. Weighing less than 14 pounds, the total system draws only 50 amps. The small compressor can be attached just about anywhere within the aircraft, and it is virtually maintenance free. Kelly Aerospace has been granted Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) from the Federal Aviation Administration for use of the revolutionary air compressor on Cessna 182 models P, Q, and R, and Cessna 172 models R and S single-engine aircraft. It is currently developing a customized kit for the Piper PA-32 Cherokee Six, and more STCs are in the works.

To assist in running both the Thermawing deicing system and the Thermacool air conditioning system, Kelly Aerospace has designed an alternator capable of creating ample electricity, as well as the other complex electronics on the craft, whether the plane is airborne or idling on the ground.

Recently, Kelly Aerospace Thermal Systems entered into an agreement with Redmond, Oregon-based RDD Enterprises LLC, a developer of safety and performance systems for the experimental aircraft market. The partnership will allow Kelly Aerospace’s thermal deicing systems to be widely available in this market.

Thermawing™ and Thermacool™ are trademarks of Kelly Aerospace Inc.