Plane & Pilot
Thursday, April 1, 2004

Prime Time For Icing

Although winter may have the reputation, springtime can be just as notorious when it comes to freezing conditions

icingThe first hints of warmer weather can cause a sigh of relief. Finally, winter is over. The grass is getting green. The birds sing. You know the story. But spring is a time when temperature ranges can easily move up and down above the freezing level. And even if it’s comfortable for your airplane when you’re on the ground, that doesn’t mean things will stay that way once you’re airborne. With slushy runways and spring showers to deal with, it’s an easy time to get into trouble, on the ground and in the air.
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Spring Ice

1. Get a thorough weather briefing before you fly. You can’t make informed, intelligent decisions without good, sound and reliable information. By the way, watching The Weather Channel alone doesn’t count.

2. Be informed about de-icing procedures for your aircraft. Refer to your manufacturer’s aircraft flight manual (AFM). Some aircraft ice procedures are actually in the aircraft maintenance manual or service supplements.

3. Never attempt a takeoff with any contamination on the aircraft (the clean wing concept).

4. Never attempt to take off in freezing drizzle or freezing rain. Bad things will happen!

5. Never take off in moderate icing or continue flight in severe icing conditions.

6. Make sure that anti-ice systems are turned on prior to encountering icing conditions. The pitot/static heaters should be on from takeoff to touchdown as a matter of procedure.

7. Use the de-ice systems in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions in the AFM. Make certain that they’re in working order as part of the preflight inspection.

8. Listen attentively for pilot reports on flight watch or local flight-service-station frequencies.

9. Report icing conditions to flight service when you encounter them so that others can simultaneously benefit and have sympathy for your predicament.

10. Don’t hesitate to take action to alter your course, change altitude or get on the ground should you encounter worsening conditions beyond your limitations and skills.

11. Know before you go what the limitations of your aircraft and your own abilities are (be conservative in that estimation).

12. Plan on extra reserve fuel for unexpected conditions. Extra fuel sometimes compensates for stupidity or wrong choices.


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