The use of de-icing chemicals at airport runways has been shown to produce oxides and carbonates of sodium, potassium and calcium which catalyse the oxidation of carbon-carbon composite aircraft brakes leading to an increase of the oxidation rate by an order of magnitude. This review reports on studies that have characterised the catalytic oxidation and discusses the mechanism of the catalytic reaction based on investigations that were carried out with both C-C composites and carbon as a fossil fuel. The alkali metal oxides/carbonates are more active catalysts and in their case, the redox reaction between the monoxides and the peroxides has been identified as the most likely catalysis mechanism. In order to reduce or eliminate the problem of catalysis, doping with boron or phosphorus compounds has been investigated by a number of researchers. The effect of these along with the use of protective coatings is also reviewed.