Todd Sanderson lives in New England and owns a 1967 Beechcraft C55 Baron that is equipped with Flight Into Known Icing (FIKI) certified TKS Ice Protection.
The post below from Beechtalk.com is used with Mr. Sanderson’s permission.
Was able to put TKS to the test today.
Flew to Racine, Wisconsin and back in freezing IMC across Lake Michigan. About an hour trip each way. On the way there I mostly was below the clouds and had some impact snow on the leading edges after landing. Did not use the TKS as I wanted to build up some ice and see how it handled the ice after it already formed.
So, 1 1/2 hours later a warm front is moving in and ceilings go down. I prime the system on the ground, but do not leave it on. I enter IMC at 2500 ft and start picking up ice at 3500 ft with my final altitude at 7000 with light rime being constant. After the windshield gets covered I flipped on the TKS and wait. The tail now has probably 1/4 inch on it, but I have not lost any speed. I really can’t see the leading edges of the wings other than the left inboard which starts to peel off the ice immediately. After roughly 30 minutes the tail starts to shed ice off the left side and is completely clean (Temp was 14F.) The right side shed about 1/2 the surface area.
After landing I looked the whole plane over. The props were completely clean other than the front of the spinners. Left tail was clean, right tail about 1/2 clean. Right and left wings were about 1/2 clean as well. The vertical was 100% clean. The inlets air inlets on the side of the cowls had about 1/2″ ice on the front lip and so did the comm antennas, but there was no ice anywhere else on the plane. I think that the slinging TKS does a good job of coating the airframe.
The windshield easily shed the ice with two momentary cycles of the switch.
So, given time the TKS will shed the ice – even almost 20F below freezing; however, it would be wise to have it operating well in advance of the ice. In fact, I am going to carry a small 1/2 gallon sprayer to spray the leading edges or whatever needs de-iced if ice is already on the plane.
BTW, I used just over 2 gallons in the 40 minutes or so I had the system on. I had it on “maximum for roughly 7 minutes during that time.
Anyway, the system works – just need to use it correctly.
The real bonus to this plane is the FIKI TKS system. This system makes icing virtually a non-issue when flying in freezing conditions. I have owned Barons, Dukes, 310s and many other planes with boots and there is absolutely no comparison. The TKS fluid covers the entire air frame making it impossible for ice to stick to anything. Please see the attached pictures showing the ice on the unprotected wingtips vs the rest of the plane. We were in icing conditions for an hour over Lake Michigan and lost no discernible airspeed. The only ice was on the wingtips, the comm antenna, and the prop spinners. I can’t stress enough what a great safety tool this is if you fly in icing conditions. If you cancel a trip, it will not be due to icing forecasts.
Now, having owned 10 aircraft with boots let me tell you what I did not like about them:
- Boots need cleaned (scrubbed) to keep bugs and grime off. They also need stripped to get old sealant off before you put new on. You then have to put new sealant on which is dirty and takes time. I spent about 10 hours a year just keeping the boots nice.
- Boots require proper grounding using special “glue” and if it is not done right the boots get pin holes from static electricity.
- Boots get holes from debris or just use and age. Patches look horrible.
- Boots realistically last 15 years if you treat them right. They can last 20+ years in a hangar if the plane is not flown much. Figure about $1000 per year for maintenance and replacement.
- The total weight of a booted plane is about the same as a TKS plane with fluid when you take into consideration that you no longer need a pressure system if you have a glass panel.
- Not having to replace a $600 pressure pump every year or two is nice. Also nice having to replace regulators and the $1350 “shuttle valve” under the floor that nobody replaces on it’s 10-year schedule.
- With the 2 extra gallons of fluid I carry I have about 3+ hours of icing protection. The longest time expected to *stay* in icing conditions is about an hour maximum. I can’t imagine having a trip away from home where I would need 3+ hours of protection.
- Most booted planes have heated props which are not as effective as the TKS and are maintenance intensive. I have replaced my fair share of prop heater boots, brushes, and “timers” – many of which have been discontinued and are priced like unobtanium. Any FIKI booted plane also has a horrible $7k heated windshield strip that rarely works and is ugly. I have flown enough of them to learn to hate them.
- The boots do not keep ice off the airframe like TKS does. I was in constant ice for 30 minutes and had little icing on the plane.
- I had a FIKI booted 210 that nearly killed me due to it’s inability to remove ice that this plane system would have not struggled with. Rich Kaplan was so disgusted with his FIKI 210 that he replaced it with TKS.
I do agree the fluid is a little bit of work, but it is nothing compared to maintaining boots to keep them healthy and looking good. I also agree that the TKS leaves a couple puddles in the hangar if you don’t turn off the TKS before you land. Having owned both systems I will take the TKS.