While flying yesterday in the 701 with a fellow 701 pilot, the discussion about icing and wing slats came up.

The background:

Weather for the day was partly cloudy and temperatures around freezing at the airport, rising to a few degrees above freezing during the day.

A warm front was approaching from the south with an advisory for possible light icing at 2000 ft. (the level of the cloud base)

We stayed below 2000 ft in any case but were wondering what effect the wing slats would have in known icing?

Would they take the brunt of the icing and keep a clean flow of air over the wing?

Would the leading edge ice up and cause turbulence through the gap?

I'm not ever advocating flying in to known icing conditions, but if it were to happen, how do you think the wing would react compared to a standard airfoil?

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Interesting question!

I guess it would depend on the type and amount of ice… there’s a quote from NASA that basically says every icing event is unique and random differences in ice buildup can have drastically different effects on aircraft handling. That said, I think if the ice grew thick enough on the bottom of the slat then it would disrupt the airflow through the slot, and it seems to me that if the angle of attack was high enough to make the slot work, then the bottom of the slot would be presented to the oncoming air anyway, so it could ice up too even if the airflow wasn’t already disrupted. On a 701 wing, the more immediate problem might be ice on the flaperons (sharper leading edges ice up faster than rounder ones), and then there’s the rest of the airplane to consider... Slats on the wings wouldn’t prevent the propeller or horizontal stabilizer from icing up and stalling, for example. 

It would be interesting to ask Roger or Mr. Heinz at Zenith if the 701 (or any Zenith kit aircraft) underwent any flight testing in any type of icing conditions. My guess is you’d become a test pilot if it happened to you. Or continuous flight in solid IFR e.g. the clouds. There’s no mention of either in any of their promotional literature for the 701.

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