NTSB Wants Tougher Icing Rules For Turboprops

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It may be tough to think about icing in the middle of July, but that's their job at the NTSB, and on Monday the safety board asked the FAA to do more to prevent icing incidents in turboprop airplanes. The NTSB wants all operators of Saab SF340-series airplanes to install an icing-detection system and to instruct pilots to maintain a minimum operating airspeed if icing is encountered or expected. Crews should exit icing conditions as soon as performance degradations prevent the airplane from maintaining that airspeed. Further, the board would like the FAA to require operators of turboprops to instruct pilots, except during intermittent periods of high workload, to disengage the autopilot and fly the airplane manually when operating in icing conditions. More research needs to be done, too. The FAA should convene a panel of specialists in airplane design, aviation operations and human factors, including folks from NASA, to determine if it would be feasible to require the installation of low-airspeed alert systems in airplanes operating under Parts 121 and 135.