About green ice protection

GAINS—Green Airframe Icing Novel Systems—is a European Union Clean Sky 2 (CS2) Joint Technology Initiative. It builds on research into smart electro-thermal ice protection systems under Clean Sky 1. This took advantage of industry knowledge in electro-thermal ice protection for helicopter air inlets and cutting-edge actuation control systems. The solution developed cut the energy typically consumed by a bleed air system by 50 per cent.

Even more GAINS

Under EU Clean Sky 2, Meggitt Polymers & Composites, a division of Meggitt PLC, is leading a consortium of core partners that will target a massive 90 per cent reduction in power used through smart materials actuation.

The GAINS consortium is an Airframe ITD (Integrated Technology Demonstrator) which operates within the framework of Clean Sky 2. GAINS qualifies under Activity Line 1: Demonstration of airframe technologies focused toward high performance and energy efficiency and is part of Technology Stream A-4 – Novel Control.

Electric partnerships break the ice

EU joint technology initiatives are led by consortia of industry and academic partners, bringing key capabilities and shaping research strategy. Where possible, they implement the new technologies they are sponsored to develop, bringing them to market to support EU environmental goals at the earliest opportunity.

In addition to Meggitt Polymers & Composites, the GAINS consortium includes Meggitt Sensing Systems’ French and Danish facilities, plus the University of Nottingham (for coating technologies, advanced power electronics and electrical drive systems), Ultra Electronics PALS (for harness translation mechanisms), AeroTex UK (for ice analysis) and CIRA (the Italian aerospace research centre for world-class icing wind tunnel facilities and ice accretion software development).

The consortium will deliver a complete ice protection solution for business aircraft, including smart hybrid bleed-air and electro-thermal systems for de-ice and anti-ice and the novel ultra-low power de-ice system. The ‘Work Area Leads’ (industrial sponsors and specifiers of the requirements) are Dassault Aviation and Airbus Spain.

This mission is critical

Ice protection is mission critical. Aircraft cannot be flown without a system that checks the formation of ice deposits on aircraft surfaces. Today, most anti-ice systems on civil aircraft heat surfaces using bleed air. De-ice systems allow a thin layer of ice to form before it is removed, typically using pneumatic rubber ‘boots’, which inflate and cause the ice to break off. With the emphasis on conserving power, it is time for next generation thinking. That’s the GAINS mission.

Expulsive systems have been available for a number of years using heavy electro-mechanical actuators to apply impulses to an aircraft’s structure causing the ice deposits to break away from the aircraft skin. The new system will use alternative actuation strategies to provide the mechanical impulses.

Alongside active ice protection systems, research is being conducted into passive ice protection using, for the first time, advanced ice-phobic surface materials to inhibit ice accretion and promote ice shedding. Passive ice protection, combined with active systems, promises the lowest possible ice protection system.

The GAINS project started formally in July 2015 and continues to 2022, with the objective of demonstrating the flightworthy advanced hybrid system and a laboratory demonstration of the novel low-power alternative.

Our goals

The GAINS consortium will create an ultra-low power IPS by combining and developing the latest research and most promising current technologies.

  • Realise the opportunity to create a smart IPS which supports ice detection by using active and passive ice protection measures, with piezo-electric technologies.
  • Ensure this technological breakthrough supports and simplifies the design and certification process for aircraft manufacturers, including providing validated modelling tools for electrical architectures and icing numerical simulation.
  • Incorporate these IPS improvements into consortium member products to enhance current capability or for use in the next generation of aircraft. This means that Clean Sky funding and consortium investments will reach the market and derive a wide range of environmental and commercial benefit as soon as possible.