Test center icing.jpg

The icing crews from the Redstone Test Center are preparing for another season in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. RTC crews have been on several training missions in the Huntsville area since September.

Icing qualification missions utilize the CH-47F equipped with the Helicopter Icing Spray System. The HISS, an orange boom attached to the Chinook, is capable of spraying large amounts of water over a brief period of time. These training missions included a Bell 407, which was utilized as a stand in for the aircraft that will be under test this winter.

Since the early 1970s, airborne artificial and natural icing testing has been conducted by the Army in Fairbanks, Alaska; Moses Lake, Seattle, and Spokane, Washington; and Edwards Air Force Base, California; and in Duluth, Minnesota from 1983 to 2014, until the hangar facility was no longer available. Testing has been conducted in Marquette, Michigan, at K.I. Sawyer International Airport since 2015.

Training for those tests happens here in North Alabama by highly skilled experimental test pilots, flight test engineers, and flight engineers within RTC’s Aviation Flight Test Directorate.

The HISS is a system designed to provide artificial icing conditions and is used as part of icing certification for military and civilian aircraft. The HISS creates a controlled-cloud environment through which the test aircraft flies. The effects of ice accumulation and shedding are then documented with onboard instrumentation and photography.

Testing utilizing the HISS system will begin this month in Marquette.

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