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Aviation Safety: Aircraft Inflight Icing

Aviation Safety: Aircraft Inflight Icing

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a Safety Alert regarding inflight icing aboard airplanes and the dangers it poses. Recently, commercial plane crashes have been consuming the news headlines.

Ice-briding as it is referred to can be an extremely serious and dangerous condition for an aircraft. I’ve added a few of the items in the NTSB report below. Please check the report for yourself to see the complete report.

  • As little as 1/4 inch of leading-edge ice can increase the stall speed 25 to 40 knots.
  • The danger is that some 1/4-inch accumulations have minimum impact and pilots become over confident.
  • Sudden departure from controlled flight is possible with only 1/4 inch of leading-edge ice  accumulation at normal approach speeds.
  • For 60 years, pilots have been taught to wait for a prescribed accumulation of leading-edge ice before activating the deice boots because of the believed threat of ice bridging.
  • In theory, ice bridging could occur if the expanding boot pushes the ice into a frozen shape around the expanded boot, thus rendering the boot ineffective at removing ice.
  • The Safety Board has no known cases where ice bridging has caused an incident or accident, and has investigated numerous incidents and accidents involving a delayed activation of deice boots.
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