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Considering the large surface areas of the wings of the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380, can the bleed air for deicing the wings be switched on and off as needed and if so, is that automatic and where are the sensors to control this (on which parts and why).

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    $\begingroup$ For the reader unfamiliar with aircraft systems I’d like to comment that on most airliners I am familiar with, only the wing leading edge (and engine inlets) are heated with bleed air for anti-ice purposes, but not the whole wing. Even the leading edge might only be „anti-iced“ partially. (Comment triggered by reference to wing surface area in original question) $\endgroup$ – Cpt Reynolds Jan 14 '18 at 19:34
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Yes. Automatic operation exists as well (may not be installed/chosen by the operator).

Nitpicking: this bleed air is for anti-ice, not de-ice (but even manufactures get it wrong in the manuals sometimes, see below).

Saving this bleed air when not needed saves fuel and engine wear, and allows higher more efficient cruise altitudes.

Speaking of the A380, due to its thick wing, it does not need much anti-icing.

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(Source: A380 FCOM)

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    $\begingroup$ On 747-100/200 aircraft the operation was manual only as I remember. Also, it was only effective if you had not started the flaps down since the first flap position opened the leading edge devices, which meant that if the wing leading edge anti-ice was on, all you were doing was dumping bleed air to the outside. The preferred way of handling icing was just to speed up and raise the ram air temperature. $\endgroup$ – Terry Jan 14 '18 at 20:52

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