Winter is fast approaching and itís time to start thinking about
winter flight operations and preparing you and your aircraft for
the colder weather ahead. The following are some tips for making
winter flying safer and more enjoyable.
Before flight, obtain a complete weather briefing, even
if you are only flying locally. Use the Area Forecast to
obtain information on possible icing conditions. Also, request
Pilot Reports to ascertain if icing conditions have been
encountered along your route of flight.
Before your flight and/or during your flight, pay attention
to rapid changes in weather and temperatures. Remember
that if you are flying IFR, there will usually be a temperature
drop when entering a cloud. If the temperature is close
to freezing in the clear air, icing can be expected in the
cloud. Also, while flying in the mountains of the west,
high MEAs usually equal freezing temperatures.
If aircraft begins to accumulate ice, have a plan
to get out of the icing conditions. A 180 degree turn, a
climb or descent should immediately be executed.
Note- Types of icing intensities and airframe ice
Trace- Ice becomes perceptible. Rate of accumulation
slightly greater than rate of sublimation. It is not hazardous even
though de-icing/anti-icing equipment is not used unless encountered
for an extended period of time-over one hour.
Light- The rate of accumulation may create
a problem if flight is prolonged in this environment
(over one hour). Occasional use of de-icing/anti-icing
equipment removes/prevents accumulation. It does not
present a problem if the de-icing/anti-icing equipment
Moderate- The rate of accumulation is such
that even short encounters become potentially hazardous
and use of de-icing/anti-icing equipment or diversion
Severe- The rate of accumulation is such that
de-icing/anti-icing equipment fails to reduce or control
the hazard. Immediate diversion is necessary.
Note- Icing may be rime, clear or mixed.
Rime ice- Rough milky opaque ice
formed by the instantaneous freezing of small super
cooled water droplets.
Clear ice- A glossy, clear or translucent ice
formed by the relatively slow freezing of large supercooled
RememberóIf your aircraft is not certificated for flight
into known icing conditions, you are not legal to fly in known
If you fly a retractable gear aircraft and take off on a
wet or slushy runway, and the temperatures are near, at or below
freezing, remember to cycle you gear several times after takeoff
to be sure that the gear is not frozen in the "gear up"
If your static ports freeze, use your alternate static source.
If you do not have an alternate static source, break the glass
on the VSI. This will allow venting into the cockpit.
Some pitot heating systems, especially systems designed
for aircraft not certified for flight in known icing conditions,
will not handle extremely cold temperatures and be able to melt
ice build up on the pitot tube.
When approaching to land with ice on the aircraft, do not
use flaps and keep the approach speed 130% to 140% of Vso. Use
of flaps will create too much drag.
If icing conditions are encountered, report it to ATC. Other
pilots need to know. Advise ATC if you need assistance in immediately
exiting the area of icing conditions.
Remove all ice, frost and/or snow from the aircraft before flight.