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New deicing simulator saves money, manpower, increases training

Staff Sgt. Tyler Mousner, 92nd Maintenance Group Maintenance Qualification Training Program instructor, uses the deicing simulator Dec. 3, 2014 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. The simulator was recently installed and will allow Airmen to train without using deicing equipment and use expendable resources. All new, and many currently assigned to the 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and some new Airmen to the 92nd Maintenance Squadron will train on the new simulator. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes)

Staff Sgt. Tyler Mousner, 92nd Maintenance Group Maintenance Qualification Training Program instructor, uses the deicing simulator Dec. 3, 2014 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. The simulator was recently installed and will allow Airmen to train without using deicing equipment and use expendable resources. All new, and many currently assigned to the 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and some new Airmen to the 92nd Maintenance Squadron will train on the new simulator. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes)

Staff Sgt. Tyler Mousner, 92nd Maintenance Group Maintenance Qualification Training Program instructor, 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.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes)

Staff Sgt. Tyler Mousner, 92nd Maintenance Group Maintenance Qualification Training Program instructor, 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. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes)

92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airmen work together to de-ice a KC-135 Stratotanker on the flight line for flight preparation at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Jan. 29, 2014. Aircraft de-icing 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. The recently installed deicing simulator allows Airmen to train deicing an aircraft without using costly deicing resources and equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airmen work together to de-ice a KC-135 Stratotanker on the flight line for flight preparation at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Jan. 29, 2014. Aircraft de-icing 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. The recently installed deicing simulator allows Airmen to train deicing an aircraft without using costly deicing resources and equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- With the winter months comes freezing temperatures, snow, frost and ice, but despite the inclement weather changes the mission continues making deicing aircraft 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. The Federal Aviation Administration Clean Water Act also requires us to recover the fluid which also costs money," said Staff Sgt. Tyler Mousner, 92nd MXG Maintenance Qualification Training Program instructor. "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, 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, anti-ice and change the time of day. It is also able to adjust the weather, amount of snow and add wind as a factor. 

"Weather can be a major factor on the flightline, and depending on the winds deicing can be different. It is also very important to be careful to not damage the aircraft," Mousner said. "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 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. 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," said Tech. Sgt. David Lamb, 92nd MXG MQTP instructor. "If anything is left on the plane it can interfere with the aircraft's lift and be potentially dangerous."

All new Airmen entering the 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, some new Airmen to the 92nd Maintenance Squadron and some members permanently changing duty stations will train on the new simulator. 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."