FAA: Deactivate Thermawing Deicers

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Some owners of Columbia aircraft who were looking forward to flying through the winter with heated wings will have to put those plans on ice, at least for now. The FAA says all Thermawing (aka E-Vade) systems on Columbia airplanes must be deactivated and a placard must be installed in the cockpit that clearly says the deicer is offline. The compulsory Airworthiness Directive (AD) follows up on a recent Service Bulletin issued by Kelly Aerospace, which builds the wing deicing system. The deicer, which has been STC'd for some Columbia models, can short circuit if it's not installed correctly, says the FAA, causing possible burning of the wings and horizontal stabilizer, as well as a possible reduction in structural integrity. The short circuit can be caused by insufficient removal of copper mesh when the deice heater connectors are installed. The copper material is embedded in the composite airplane structure for lightning protection. Robert Simmons, a customer service representative at Kelly Aerospace, told AVweb on Wednesday that a fix is in the works and aircraft owners should receive a kit and instructions to remedy the problem by mid-January. About two dozen Columbia aircraft are affected, Simmons said.