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  • Writer's pictureSun Country

Beyond boarding: An in-depth look at our deicing process

In regions with cold and snow, deicing is a routine safety practice at airports. Simply put, deicing is the process of removing wintery contamination from the surfaces of an aircraft. Contaminants could be frost, ice, snow, or any other type of precipitation that could reduce lift on the aircraft. 

Sun Country Airlines deicing machine during MN winters

If you’ve flown in the winter, you’ve probably heard your captain announce a stop for deicing before takeoff. Whether or not you paid much attention, this process ensures each of our aircraft departs safely and frost-free. At Sun Country, that’s all thanks to our dedicated deicing team.  

Why deice an aircraft? 

Airplane wings are specially designed to provide lift which enables flight. When snow or ice builds up on the wings, it directly affects the wing shape and prevents air from flowing properly over the surface. Additionally, snow and ice can also add weight and prevent crucial movement of surfaces like rudders and flaps. Deicing ensures the surface of the wing is clear and can achieve proper lift. 

How long does deicing take? 

This is where we ask for a little patience from our guests. Deicing times vary depending on what is being removed from the surface of the plane. Removing a small layer of frost might take around 15 minutes. If there are more significant layers of ice or freezing rain that need to be removed, the process can take over 30 minutes. In the longest instance, active snowfall on top of pre-existing layers of ice may mean additional time before departure.  

How many people does it take to deice an aircraft? 

One of the two pilots, generally the captain, will determine whether an aircraft needs deicing during their pre-flight check. They will then signal, “iceman” on the radio to indicate they would like a deicing team to service the aircraft.  

“The iceman, as we call it, is the person in charge of the two-way communication with the pilots for the duration of their stay at the deice pad,” said Peter, one of our ramp managers. “The iceman will tell the pilot where to park, and the pilot will direct what specific deicing procedures are needed.”  

Sun Country Airlines deicing machine during MN winters

Each deicing truck is operated by two people – one driver and one sprayer – and an aircraft may be serviced by more than one truck at a time. 

Deicing is a critical safety activity for departing aircraft in winter, and we ask our guests for their patience while they wait. With our dedicated teams and equipment, we'll get travelers to their friends, family, and warm-weather destinations safely. 

Book your winter getaway now. Get To Going. 


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