Icing: Educate, don’t regulate

Twin Cessna icing AD the wrong approach, AOPA says

July 19, 2011

After investigating twin-engine Cessna accidents and incidents attributed to icing, the FAA is proposing to address the safety issue with an airworthiness directive (AD), but AOPA says an educational campaign could be more effective.

The proposed AD, targeting Cessna 310, 320, 340, 401, 402, 411, 414, and 421 twins, would require a 15-knot increase in approach speed in the case of inadvertent flight into icing conditions and two new placards in the cockpit: one stating that flight into known icing conditions is prohibited, and another stating the increase in approach speed. AOPA strongly agrees that the certification status and limitations of an aircraft must be made clear to operators, but questioned whether the proposed placards would have an effect on safety. The association also pointed out that a 15-knot increase in final approach speed could actually create a different unsafe condition: possible runway overruns.

“AOPA supports educational efforts to improve safety and reduce the number of icing accidents that occur annually,” wrote Kristine Hartzell, AOPA manager of regulatory affairs. “We believe that in the case of aircraft accidents resulting from inadvertent encounters from flight into icing conditions, educational efforts should target all pilots on all aircraft types. There are limits to all aircraft no matter what level of ice protection is installed.”

The FAA said it was proposing the AD because the aircraft’s certification did not clearly state the types of operations and conditions to which the aircraft were limited, and, “Therefore, the pilot may not realize that, even with de-ice boots or other similar equipment installed, the airplane is not certificated for flight into known icing conditions.” But the manufacturer addressed this potential confusion with a service bulletin in 1997, AOPA said.

The association reminded the FAA of the Air Safety Institute’s multiple educational resources on airframe icing and offered the institute’s assistance in developing more safety outreach materials.