Even as researchers study ways to improve detection of in-flight icing and make airframes and engines more resistant to icing conditions, they continue to struggle to understand the icing phenomenon–especially the formation of ice crystals–according to speakers at a conference on the subject organized by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in Cologne, Germany recently. Ice-prevention techniques present their own challenges, which aircraft makers, airports and ground handlers are endeavoring to solve.
Boeing and GE have warned companies operating Boeing 747-8 and 787 airliners powered by certain versions of General Electric’s GEnx engines about the risk of in-flight internal-engine icing that can reduce engine performance if aircraft wander too close to areas of significant precipitation, like thunderstorms at high altitudes. Engine models affected are the GEnx-2B on the 747-8 and the GEnx-1B on the 787 Dreamliner.
Equipment manufacturer Zodiac Aerospace is developing two new in-flight icing detection systems (FIDS). Scheduled to be ready for entry-into-service in 2015, the first system will detect supercooled droplets of less than 50 microns in diameter. This size is consistent with current standards for large aircraft (CS-25, Appendix C under EASA rules).
Aircraft departing from two U.S. airports have a quicker and more environmentally friendly option for de-icing than traditional glycol. At New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport and Wisconsin’s Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport (RHI), departing aircraft that require de-icing can roll into an open-ended hangar where targeted infrared (IR) waves remove frost, snow and ice with a minimum of glycol usage, increasing aircraft throughput and decreasing de-icing time and cost.
A new de-icing management system will soon become operational at Denver International Airport. Built by Saab, the Aerobahn system uses a multilateration system to allow aircraft operators to track congestion at the airport’s de-icing pads during winter ops. The system can schedule and sequence aircraft into centralized de-icing pads; track de-icing queue lengths and occupancy times; and automatically record de-icing process completions. The Saab system is operational at ATL, JFK, PHX and CLT, as well as 20 other major airports around the world.
Concerned that some pilots of turbine-powered aircraft may not be paying enough attention to their aircraft’s need for fuel-system ice inhibitors as outlined in the aircraft flight manual (AFM), the FAA has issued Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) CE 13-29 to remind crews that these inhibitors must be added to ensure safe aircraft operations.
Less than two months after two possible weather-related fatal crashes of EMS helicopters in Illinois and Iowa, the FAA issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SW-08-03R3) covering recommendations for rotorcraft powered by turboshaft engines flying into snowy or icy conditions. The SAIB describes procedures to reduce the probability of an uncommanded in-flight engine shutdown due to snow and/or ice ingestion and reminds operators that most helicopters are not approved/equipped for flight-into-icing conditions.
Despite the first day of spring being just a few weeks away, encounters with icing at altitude still represent a very real problem. Responsibility for understanding the intricacies of ice formation, as well as how to exit an area of icing before a loss of aircraft control occurs, still falls on the cockpit crew. Here are some valuable icing resources that are easily accessed from any Internet connection that are worth bookmarking for next year’s season.
The FAA recently published a notice to operators, training managers and inspectors of the importance of AC 120-109, to reinforce the importance of adequate flight crew training on the use of aircraft stick shakers and pushers. The increased emphasis was the result of a September 2010 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to stem the numbers of loss-of-control accidents due to pilot unfamiliarity with stick pushers, as well as flight into icing and wind-shear conditions.
Less than two months after two possible weather-related fatal crashes of EMS helicopters in Illinois and Iowa, the FAA has issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin covering recommendations for rotorcraft flying into snowy or icy conditions. The SAIB describes procedures to reduce the probability of an uncommanded in-flight engine shutdown due to snow and/or ice ingestion and reminds operators that most helicopters are neither equipped nor approved for flight into icing conditions.
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