Tank seen from below
Expertise in fluid management resulted in significant savings at one of UK’s busy airports

De-icing facility in UK airport

Un-manned de-icing airport facility ensures stable flight traffic

Thanks to a clever design of the de-icing facilities, one of UK’s busy airports have saved approximately 7% on the de-icing costs per day during the de-icing season.

With any busy airport, it is vital that air traffic control slots are not missed.  A task that is difficult enough for operations under normal circumstances, but when inclement weather lowers the winter air temperature and causes frost the situation is complicated by the need to de-ice the aircraft to remove any build up before takeoff.

NIRAS was tasked with performing “due-diligence” of the preliminary design for a new facility at one of Europes busiest airports. A facility that was to feature the latest technology and be completely unmanned.

NIRAS was awarded the “turnkey” contract which included the full design, automation, liaison with main civil contractor, mechanical and electrical installation, site management, and project management elements.

Handling the fluid management

The process plant was constructed within a basement area. The six lane, drive-through, dispensing bays are situated above the process plant, at ground level allowing the twin storage compartments of the de-icing trucks to be quickly filled.

To establish the new facility, all of the NIRAS teams expertise within fluid dynamics and process design had been utilized during the design of the new facility.


The creation of an off-site warehouse to consolidate part deliveries meant that there was just one delivery to the main site. This reduced the challenges of logistics and security.

Minimising the risk of disruption of flights

Any significant Plant failure during the De-Icing season would result in disruption of flights. To minimise the risk, the plant has been designed with full redundancy capabilities such as twin incomer power supplies, twin Motor Control Centres (MCC) with “bus-coupler”, redundant process controllers etc.

The plant has been designed for “disaster recovery” scenarios. In the event of a failure on one of the incomers, the plant can still operation at 50%. If there was a catastrophic failure of the process control system, fluid can still be dispensed by opening the automatic valves via the integrated hand wheels and driving the pumps manually via the MCC.

NIRAS has been complimented on the design solution and has achieved operational cost savings that included a significant saving on de-icing fluids per day during the De-Icing season. 

A look inte the de-icer facility.

A look into the de-icer facility that secures a 7 % saving on the de-icing costs per day during the de-icing season.