What is the key to the efficient de-icing of an aircraft?

Jan Pojezny: In aircraft de-icing, the main factor is actually thermal energy, meaning spraying hot fluid. For practical reasons, fluid is heated and sprayed at a temperature of 60-80°C. However, in winter, during spraying, the fluid cools down before actually being applied to the aircraft, thereby reducing the efficiency. Thus, the key to efficient de-icing, regardless of de-icing unit manufacturer, lies in minimising the spray distance, while at the same time – for safety – maximising the distance between the de-icing truck and the aircraft. This is made possible with our Elephant BETA de-icer with the 12m telescopic, joystick-controlled spray boom.

How can Vestergaard Company help its clients with their total ownership costs?

In aircraft de-icing, at medium-to-large operations, the investment in de-icers typically constitutes a very small part of the total cost of ownership (TCO). Other, more significant elements include fuel costs, maintenance costs and, in particular, aircraft de-icing fluid costs. The latter can even account for more than 50% of TCO, making fluid consumption savings key.

With our 12m telescopic nozzle boom and patented nozzle arrangement, the spray distance can always be kept approximately 1m from the aircraft for maximum fluid efficiency, while, at the same time, increasing the distance between truck and aircraft for safety purposes. Another example of TCO-reducing measures lies in the fuel economy of our products. The Vestergaard stainless steel coil heater has a thermal efficiency of more than 90%, in comparison with 65% for 'off-the shelf' industrial heaters.

What areas of the ground support equipment (GSE) industry is Vestergaard exploring electrification, and why?

The short reply is 'in all areas'. Generally, in an aircraft de-icer, three elements need power: propulsion, on-board mechanical and electrical systems, and fluid heating. It may take a while before full electrification of the latter becomes a reality, due to a huge thermal power requirement; but for powering the actual truck and running pumps and hydraulics, we are already well into the development of new solutions.

How has the sophistication of sensor technology influenced the company's product ranges?

As a result of improving affordability, sensor technology is implemented in a number of our products as standard. This includes our precise positioning system, which can assist de-icing operators with keeping a constant distance between the spray nozzle and the aircraft for increased efficiency. Another type of technology, which we are increasingly implementing, are camera solutions that assist the de-icer operators who are driving or spraying. Our 360° camera solution, in particular, has been very well received by the market, allowing a one-screen overview of the areas in the vicinity of the truck. It has proved to be very useful during de-icing at the gates, for example.

What advantages does Vestergaard offer customers, in terms of resupplying spare parts, technical support and advice for all its products?

One of our guiding principles at Vestergaard has been to build GSE on standard, existing, commercially available chassis. Why develop a chassis on our own, when major truck manufacturers such as Volvo, Mercedes and MAN build first-class trucks? For our customers, the advantage lies in having access to services and spare parts locally, regarding, say, the mobility of the truck chassis. Vestergaard components for GSE are stocked and can be shipped overnight to all destinations.

Slowly, but surely, we have expanded our service base, so that, in addition to our main service facility in Denmark, we can also assign highly skilled GSE specialists who are based in France, Germany, Russia, Japan and Thailand.