How Airplanes Are Prepared for Winter Weather

Flex Air Airports, Commercial Aviation

Winter weather tends to be challenging for every part of flight operations.


When precipitation is falling, special procedures must be followed to have the wings and tail free of contamination before takeoff. Contamination causes a distorted airflow, which leads to a loss of lift and control. De-icing is an essential step. Once passengers have boarded the aircraft, the captain taxis to a de-icing station where trucks and ground service personnel spray hot glycol onto the wings and other crucial surfaces. Once all the ice has melted, a special fluid is applied that prevents ice from reforming on the wing. This fluid is only effective for a specific amount of time and the plane must be airborne before this time expires or return for de-icing again. During the flight, airliners have de-icing systems to prevent ice from building up on the wings. Most jets use hot air from the engine compressors to keep the wings heated. Engine inlets are also heated by engine compressor air, preventing ice from impacting the airflow into the engines. Windshields, much like car defrosts, are electrically headed.


Airliners have very effective braking systems with anti-skid. They are equipped with reverse thrust and panels on the wing to kill lift, transferring the weight to the wheels for braking. It is part of the requirements to prove that every jet airliner can safely stop on a runway contaminated with snow, ice, or rain. These demonstrations provide pilots with the landing distance needed to safely stop in adverse weather. With well-trained and experienced pilots and ground staff, we fly safely in challenging winter weather every year.

Other Options for Winter Travel

During the winter months, it may be worth it to invest in private jet charters. Even while airlines are inevitably grounded, it is likely that private jets keep passengers moving because of the greater flexibility and airport options. Fast and easy to set up, all you have to do is call 1-888-722-0776 and let the experts help you from there!