Heading off icing challenges

December 22, 2011

While it's unclear yet whether icing played a role in the crash of a TBM 700 in New Jersey on Dec. 20, it is clear that moderate to severe icing was in the area near the single-engine turboprop as it departed Teterboro for Atlanta. Five people onboard were killed as the airplane crashed onto I-287 just 14 minutes after takeoff. No one on the ground was injured.

The presence of ice in that area is a good reminder that we are coming into the worst icing time of year, according to Kevin Hawley, head of business development for CAV Ice Protection, the company that makes the TKS “weeping wing” anti-icing system.

In studying NTSB reports, Hawley says that January and late March are the two most likely periods for icing accidents to occur. In a video interview for AOPA Live Dec. 20, he notes that regardless of the type of anti- or de-icing system on the airplane, pilots must recognize icing situations and immediately exit them. Because pilots fail to recognize bad icing situations quickly enough, exiting icing is only effective 28 percent of the time, he explains.

See the video for more on icing scenarios, strategies, and how TKS works.

The Air Safety Institute's online course WeatherWise: Precipitation and Icing also is a good resource for understanding icing scenarios. To better understand the various icing levels, from trace to severe, see “Wx Watch: Icing Intensities” in the Dec. 2009 issue of AOPA Pilot.