Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 1, 2014

More Alerts For GA Pilots

The NTSB highlights five more areas it believes need attention

As 2013 was poised to become 2014, the NTSB added five new subjects to its growing list of Safety Alerts aimed at general aviation pilots. The agency's interest in general aviation safety was underscored when in 2014 the Safety Board again included reducing general aviation accident rates on its list of most wanted safety improvements.

Since 2004, the NTSB has issued 25 Safety Alerts for general aviation dealing with subjects that come up from time to time in accident investigations. Exam-ples include: encountering in-flight icing, preventing stalls at low altitude and avoiding thunderstorms.

The five Safety Alerts issued on December 27, 2013, were: Check Your Restraints; Engine Power Loss Due to Carburetor Icing; "Armed" for Safety: Emer-gency Locator Transmitters; All Secure, All Clear (securing items in the aircraft cabin) and Proper Use of Fiber or Nylon Self-Locking Nuts.

The carburetor icing alert notes that on average, from 2000 through 2011, there were just over 20 accidents per year involving carburetor icing, two of which each year involved fatalities. The Safety Board says some pilots still erroneously believe that carburetor icing can only occur in cold or wet weather conditions. In addition, the Safety Board says that pilots don't promptly recognize the signs of carburetor icing and take action to use carburetor heat while it's still effective. The NTSB urges pilots to: "Check the temperature and dew point for your flight to determine whether the conditions are favorable for carburetor icing. Remember, serious carburetor icing can occur in ambient temperatures as high as 90° F, or in relative humidity conditions as low as 35 percent at glide power.

"Refer to your approved aircraft flight manual or operating handbook to ensure that you are using carburetor heat according to the approved procedures and properly perform the following actions: Check the functionality of the carburetor heat before your flight; Use carburetor heat to prevent the formation of carburetor ice when operating in conditions and at power settings in which carburetor icing is probable. Remember, ground idling or taxiing time can allow carburetor ice to accumulate before takeoff; Immediately apply carburetor heat at the first sign of carburetor icing, which typically includes a drop in rpm or manifold pressure (depending upon how your airplane is equipped). Engine roughness may follow."

In addition, the NTSB suggests that it would be a good idea to consider installing a carburetor temperature gauge if a retrofit is available for your particular aircraft model. The Safety Board also urges pilots whose engines use automotive gas to remember that they may be more susceptible to carburetor icing than engines that run on avgas. It points to a publication from Transport Canada, TP 10737, The Use of Automotive Gas (Mogas) in Aviation, as a good reference guide for pilots using automotive fuels.


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