As I prepared to pen yet another article dealing with winter operations, the realization hit me that we will likely have ice-related accidents. It seems that every winter we are peppered with articles dealing with many of the issues that need to be addressed to maintain safe flight under some challenging conditions.
Just as the cold weather starts to take hold in the higher reaches of North America, Sikorsky’s S-92 has passed one of its critical remaining airworthiness tests: crews with Cougar Helicopters in Canada are now cleared to fly their aircraft into known-icing conditions.
Business aircraft pilots taxiing into Toronto Pearson’s de-icing area this winter will see–since they’re hard to miss–two large truck-mounted de-icing units cleaning down 747s, A340s and other big iron. They’re Danish built Elephant Beta-15 rigs, with telescopic booms that can reach 75 feet, high enough to spray the top of the fin of an A380.
What should operators do when they face the prospect of ice forming on aircraft and flying controls? The most obvious course of action–applying anti-icing fluid– might prove the worst, according to the European Regions Airline Association (ERA), which warns that, paradoxically, the use of thickened anti-icing fluid can lead to creation of a frozen gel that can affect all aircraft.
Apparently, it’s just a time-honored myth that the Inuit language of native Alaskans has as many as 400 different words covering all forms of frozen precipitation. In fact, there are about a dozen, just like in English.
A University of North Dakota (UND) Cessna Citation II icing research aircraft made a successful deadstick landing near Beaver, Alaska, about 70 miles north of Fairbanks, after both engines lost power on September 30. In IMC at 9,200 feet, the Citation accumulated about seven-eighths of an inch of ice on the wing’s leading edge.
A proposed AD would require the installation of de-icing boots on the landing-gear struts and cargo pods, as well as other changes to deicing equipment and procedures, on nearly 750 U.S.-registered Cessna 208 Caravans. The directive stems from the FAA’s investigation into nine icing-related incidents within the past few months and six accidents in the previous two icing seasons.
The de-icing contractor at California’s Truckee-Tahoe Airport (TRK) recently quit providing services, and the airport reports that it is unlikely any de-icing will be available in the foreseeable future. An airport spokesman said icing is, indeed, an important safety consideration during the winter months and encourages operators to closely evaluate the weather.
An InfraTek infrared de-icing system is under trial and now open at Norway’s Oslo Gardermoen Airport. Operated by SAS Ground Services, the facility consists of a tent-like structure under which aircraft taxi for a dose of radiant heat waves that melt snow and ice from all of the airplane’s surfaces. InfraTek developer Radiant Energy says that if the system meets Oslo’s economic and environmental requirements it will be put into permanent use.
Eleven years after the October 1994 crash of American Eagle Flight 4184 in Roselawn, Ind., the FAA proposed a revision to Part 25 certification regulations that aims to prevent such icing accidents. The comment period for the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) closed on February 2. Now the new rules will begin to wend their way through the FAA rulemaking process.