Regulatory Brief -- FAA Icing Plan opens door for tighter operational and aircraft certification standards

Regulatory Brief

FAA Icing Plan opens door for tighter operational and aircraft certification standards

The issue:

The FAA held an Inflight Icing Conference on February 2-4 th 1999, to examine all factors associated with inflight airframe icing and operations in icing conditions and update industry on progress associated with the FAA�s Inflight Icing Plan. Topics of discussion included operational, training, and aircraft certification issues. At the conclusion of the conference, FAA and certain industry representatives made recommendations for tighter operational, aircraft certification, and airman training standards.

The importance to our members:

Although the recommendations made at the 1999 FAA Inflight Icing Conference have yet to surface as formal policy or rulemaking, the long-term impact of these recommendations on general aviation could be significant. The findings from the icing conference could affect GA pilots and aircraft owners in the form of stricter training standards, operating restrictions, anti-ice and de-ice equipment requirements, and reduced aircraft utility.

Significant provisions:

Safety recommendations at the FAA 1999 Inflight Icing Conference included:
  • Tougher information reporting and aircraft certification requirements for airframe manufacturers.
  • Inclusion of more aircraft performance data in Flight Manuals and Pilot Operating Handbooks.
  • Additional content and dissemination of FAA advisory material.
  • Legislation to make FAA advisory material regulatory and enforceable.
  • Stricter training requirements for pilots operating under part 91 in icing conditions.
  • Implementation of icing detection and autopilot disconnect systems.
  • Stricter airmen Practical Test Standards.
  • Improved weather forecasting and flight planning information.
  • Changed definitions of forecast and known icing.

AOPA position:

AOPA maintains that inflight structural icing is not a significant cause of general aviation accidents because so few aircraft are type certificated for flight into known icing conditions. Most general aviation pilots avoid icing conditions entirely so the predominant problem with icing occurs when forecasts are either inaccurate or incomplete. For this reason, AOPA does not believe that there is a pressing need to increase certification, training, and operating requirements for general aviation flight into known icing. AOPA does however, support the need for improved icing forecasting technology and procedures so that icing forecasts are more precise in terms of geographic location and actual conditions.

Status:

AOPA is currently monitoring all regulatory and policy development as a result of the 1999 FAA Inflight Icing Conference, and will inform the membership should any of these issues become available for public comment.

Related documents:

1999 FAA Inflight Icing Plan (requires Adobe Reader)