FAA Takes Action (But Not What The NTSB Suggests)

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The FAA has been monitoring Caravan winter performance and issued an Airworthiness Directive last March requiring pilots to run their hand over the top surface of the wing to check for ice within five minutes of a departure in icing conditions. On Feb. 22, another AD will be adopted, augmenting the earlier AD and adding some new requirements. The cost of compliance for many Caravan owners will be at least $10,000. To make the tactile check easier for the pilot, the AD requires installation of a handle on the wing so the pilot can hang from the handle while running his or her other hand along the upper surface. The AD will also require de-icing boots on the cargo pod and landing gear fairings of aircraft destined for use in icing conditions and there will be some changes required in the Pilot's Operating Handbook section on flying in ice. Not all Caravans will be affected, however. The FAA agreed that some owners never fly in known icing conditions (skydiving operators, for instance) and will allow owners of Caravans to placard the airplane against operating in known ice instead of installing the pod and gear de-icing boots. The agency also rejected the Alaska Air Carriers Association's call for public meetings on the proposal, saying its analysis clearly pointed to the need for AD.