Tue, Nov 24, 2009
Agency Would Require Ice Detection Gear On Airliners
The FAA is proposing a rule
requiring scheduled airlines to either retrofit their existing
fleet with ice-detection equipment or make sure the ice protection
system activates at the proper time.
For aircraft with an ice-detection system, the FAA proposes that
the system alert the crew each time it should be activated. The
system would either turn on automatically or pilots would manually
For aircraft without ice-detection equipment, the crew would
activate the protection system based on cues listed in their
airplane's flight manual during climb and descent, and at the first
sign of icing when at cruising altitude.
"This is the latest action in our aggressive 15-year effort to
address the safety of flight in icing conditions," said FAA
Administrator Randy Babbitt. "We want to make sure all classes of
aircraft in scheduled service remain safe when they encounter
The FAA estimates the rule would cost operators about $5.5
million to implement. Operators would have two years after the
final rule is effective to make these changes.
The proposed rule would apply only
to in-service aircraft with a takeoff weight less than 60,000
pounds, because most larger airplanes already have equipment that
meets the requirements. In addition, studies show that smaller
planes are more susceptible to problems caused by undetected icing
or late activation of the ice protection system. The rule
technically affects 1,866 airplanes, but all turbojet airliners and
many turboprops covered under the rule already have equipment that
satisfies the requirements, and the FAA believes others will be
retired before the projected compliance date in 2012.
In August 2009, the FAA changed its certification standards for
new transport category airplane designs to require either the
automatic activation of ice protection systems or a method to tell
pilots when they should be activated.
Since 1994, the FAA has issued more than 100 airworthiness
directives to address icing safety issues on more than 50 specific
aircraft types. These orders cover safety issues ranging from crew
operating procedures in the icing environment to direct design
changes. We also have changed airplane flight manuals and other
operating documents to address icing safety, and issued bulletins
and alerts to operators emphasizing icing safety issues.
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