IWT- Icing Wind Tunnel
Icing caused 637 aircraft to crash over a period of about ten years, including 172 accidents which killed everyone on board. In 1987 a single ATR-42 turboprop crash in Conca di Crezzo (Como) claimed 37 lives in 1987.
To study how ice forms, CIRA is home to the largest and most modern Icing Wind Tunnel (IWT) in the world. Created as part of PRORA, the facility uses an innovative system to generate artificial clouds that simulate every possible natural icing condition, including those not yet mandated by aircraft certification standards.
To make the simulation as thorough as possible, the IWT can generate air speeds up to about 800 km per hour, altitudes up to 7,000 meters (the maximum speed and altitude at which ice forms) and temperatures as low as -40 °C.
The various test chambers can accommodate a wide range of full-size objects, from engine inlets to wing sections, landing gear and weapon systems. State-of-the-art instrumentation allows CIRA to assess the effectiveness of ice protection systems subject to certification, as well as to highlight the flight safety implications of any malfunctions.
Because of the performance of the equipment and of the testing experience gathered through multiyear agreements with NASA and Boeing, today major domestic, European and international aerospace companies use CIRA to certify aircraft that are immune from icing.