New Robotic System Targets Automated Aircraft De-icing, Cleaning

The de-icing robot will replace the manual and time consuming process of aircraft de-icing. 

Credit: Illustration by MSG Aviation

Robots will soon make their debut in aircraft de-icing and exterior cleaning operations. Norwegian company MSG Aviation, which specializes in aircraft de-icing, announced that it is building the world’s largest de-icing robot at Avinor Oslo Airport (OSL). 

In the last few years MSG Aviation has been working with Avinor Oslo Airport on a preliminary project to determine how the robot should be adapted in accordance with flight operations and traffic flow, specifically during peak hours when many aircraft need to be de-iced. 

After several years of testing and developments, MSG Aviation will now start building the robot, which it says will be ready to use next year. The proposed robot will implement MSG Aviation’s proprietary artificial intelligence software, and will be capable of removing snow and ice from single-aisle and twin-aisle aircraft, cleaning fuselage and engines, and conducting technical inspections. Additionally, MSG Aviation says the robot is capable of cleaning everything from large commercial aircraft to smaller private jets, as well as military aircraft. 

MSG Aviation CEO Ove Troen believes the new technology will be beneficial to airlines in terms of improving their efficiency, on-time performance, and reducing costs and carbon emissions. “There is no reason why airlines should continue with manual, time-consuming and expensive processes, when we can do it faster, better, more environmentally friendly and more cost-effectively by using new technology,” he says.

In addition, Troen says that with the help of the new technology, MSG Aviation will be able to conduct technical inspections within a few hours without opening a fuselage. He notes that the current processes for inspection take up to several weeks. 

The company has already signed a letter of intent with the airlines Wideroe and Norwegian and ground handling service provider Menzies regarding the use of its proposed robot in aircraft de-icing, washing and inspection. Additionally, Wideroe Ground Handling has signed an agreement with the company to operate the robot at OSL.  

“We are always looking to modernize all our services so that we can work smarter and more efficiently," says Kjell Maudal, chief commercial officer at Wideroe Ground Handling. "MSG Aviation's new robot gives us the opportunity to automate our processes so that we not only reduce costs, but also significantly reduce carbon emissions."

MSG Aviation aims to expand its services globally and says that it has already been in talks with several international airports and airlines. “The whole world is our catchment area and there is great interest in our services from several international airlines and airports,” says Troen. 

“We are convinced that the interest will increase even more when we can demonstrate how the world's largest robot will revolutionize parts of aviation when it is put into use at OSL,” he adds.

Prachi Patel

Prachi Patel is a London-based Associate Editor for Aviation Week's MRO editorial team. She writes news articles and designs data infographics for Aviation Week's commercial aftermarket output.