Winter Arsenal

Sept. 16, 2005
Global Ground Support not only won the USAF contract for its revolutionary deicers, but went above and beyond updating its training program and offering an interactive CD.

Global Ground Support not only won the USAF contract for its revolutionary deicers, but went above and beyond updating its training program and offering an interactive CD.

Military personnel responsible for deicing aircraft don’t have an easy job. Using too much glycol has expensive and unacceptable effects on the environment and not completely removing ice and snow from wings and rotors has life-threatening repercussions. The skill in deicing is finding that balance.


Prior to 1999, you may recall the practice of using a blast of hot air produced by turbine engines to melt the ice and snow on aircraft in an attempt to reduce the amount of glycol needed. Although creative, this solution had its shortcomings. According to many articles written about the technique, it was noisy, imprecise, difficult to maintain and didn’t always allow for the use of less deicing fluid. Recognizing this, the United States Air Force began reviewing commercial, off-the-shelf technologies to replace the turbine engine system. The winner was Global Ground Support with its revolutionary AirPlus!™ forced-air deicing system, receiving a contract in 1999 for four years of firm orders and up to ten years of purchase options (including deicers for the Navy as well).


With the right equipment, deicing personnel were in a better position to battle Jack Frost, but before they could climb into the cab, one requirement remained — training.

“Deicing equipment is one of the more complicated pieces of ground support equipment in use today,” says Global Ground Support (Global) Marketing Manager, Laurie Kyle. Kyle recalls that before 1998, the manual for Global’s deicer training program was 300 plus pages and 4-inches thick. It was quite the educational document to carry from location to location for training sessions. But with the realization of the USAF contract, Global upgraded its entire deicing education series, offering the first sessions in 2000.

Global’s CEO, Rick Smith: “The training provides USAF personnel with maintenance and operation of the system. A training manual is supplied to each person attending the class and supplies both the operators and maintenance personnel with familiarization of the truck and chassis, structure of the boom and enclosed cab, operation characteristics of the auxiliary engines, system pressures and flow adjustments of the fluid handling system, heater system operation and maintenance, hydraulic system, electrical systems and AirPlus system, as well as troubleshooting of all systems.”

An interactive CD is also available from Global for continued training or educating new personnel coming into the deicer program at the Air Base. The CD is interactive with pictures and schematic diagrams of the deicer as well as a detailed keyword search. A preview of the CD is available on Global’s website at

Smith adds that training occurs when a base receives its new deicer. Global travels to bases all over the world to provide four days of training, educating 10-person classes on the maintenance and operation of the specific deicer. There are two models used by the Air Force under the DOD contract, GL1800 (for smaller aircraft, e.g. C-130) and ER2875 (for larger aircraft, e.g. C-5 and C-17). At the end of the program, trainees receive a Certificate of Training from the Global instructor.


According to Charles Preston, service manager for Global, one main benefit of training is to reduce the reliance on outside/civilian personnel to keep the equipment operational. With the training, if a problem occurs, a military maintenance person can start work right away, whereas without training, the Air Force personnel would be forced to rely on the factory for support with lengthy delays if the unit is overseas or in a war zone.

Also, bases may have specific questions related to their past deicing experiences. Preston sometimes trains at bases that have not been introduced to Type IV anti-icing fluid or the personnel are only familiar with a proportional system and not a premix system. “In general we try to give them all the information available as well as contact numbers at the plant for Air Force personnel to call or e-mail if additional information or technical assistance is needed,” says Preston.


“Global Ground Support has made great efforts to [simplify] the design and operation of its deicing equipment,” adds marketing manager Kyle, “[yet] it still requires thorough training of the equipment…” Charles adds that the maintenance manual is a good place to pursue more information. Also, additional CDs are available for purchase should they get lost or damaged.