... Let’s Be Careful Out There ...

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Perhaps with one eye on the calendar and another on last season's icing-related accidents involving high-end general aviation aircraft, three aviation trade groups this week published a joint letter announcing a safety-awareness program designed to mitigate the risk of incidents related to ice contamination. The letter to business aviation operators and FBOs highlights the "extra measures operators should take when operating in a winter climate." The letter also provides references to online resources containing detailed guidance and comprehensive educational tools for icing operations. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and National Air Transportation Association (NATA) jointly developed the letter and the program it announces.

The letter responds to an FAA request for the trade groups to help the agency develop "guidelines and programs that will help reduce risk in business aircraft operations." Among recommendations in the Oct. 11 letter:

  • Ensure that your aircraft's lift-generating surfaces are COMPLETELY free of contamination before flight through a tactile (hands-on) check of the critical surfaces when feasible. We recommend that, even when otherwise permitted, operators avoid smooth or polished frost on lift-generating surfaces as an acceptable preflight condition.
  • Provide all flight crews with current cold-weather operations procedures as part of your company's flight operations manual. It is imperative that crews be familiar with the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) limitations, and procedures necessary to deal with icing conditions prior to flight, as well as in flight.
  • Take full advantage of the opportunities available at airports for deicing. Do not refuse deicing services simply because of cost.
  • Finally, empower your aircraft crews to delay or cancel a flight if weather conditions do not support a safe operation.