From the Flight Deck features insights from the core of our aviation family – our pilots! This issue, learn more about winter icing conditions with Mike Kopp, Jet Linx Director of Operations and longtime pilot.
As winter approaches, a pilot’s focus on weather concerns begins to change from summer to winter hazards, including the possibility of icing.
Whenever visible moisture is present and the temperature is at or below freezing, the potential for ground icing contamination of the aircraft is possible. Ground icing consists of frost, freezing fog, freezing rain, snow or sleet. Aircraft take-off performance can be significantly impacted by these contaminants, and they must be prevented or removed prior to take-off to ensure a safe flight.
Jet Linx pilots utilize the “Clean Aircraft Concept” which states, “No airplane will takeoff with ice, snow or frost adhering to any part of the aircraft structure which, in the opinion of the PIC, might adversely affect airplane performance.”
Generally, the following critical aircraft surfaces should be clear of contaminants, as well as any other areas recommended by the manufacturer: pitot heads and static ports; ram-air intakes for engine control and flight instruments; other kinds of instrument sensor pickup points; fuel vents; engine inlets; wings, empennage, and control surfaces; fuselage upper surfaces on aircraft with center mounted engines; and propellers.
To prevent icing on the ground, aircraft in a hangar can be kept in a hangar or anti-icing fluids can be applied. At times, flights might be re-scheduled to a time where ground icing conditions are no longer a hazard. If an aircraft becomes contaminated with frost, ice or snow, then it must be de-iced. De-icing can be accomplished by mechanical or chemical means. Sweeping snow from a cold soaked aircraft may be all that is required, but in the case of frost or ice, a heated de-icing fluid must be used. Most commonly, de-icing fluid is applied to the aircraft from a vehicle with a boom and a sprayer.
Regardless of the type of prevention or removal, the pilots must ensure the aircraft is clean prior to take-off. During conditions where ground icing may occur, a pilot must make a visual inspection of the critical surfaces on the aircraft within five minutes of take-off. If delays occur and the time is exceeded the flight crew must perform an additional inspection to ensure the aircraft is clean and safe to fly.