July 19, 2011
By AOPA ePublishing staff
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.
U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) has described a proposed airworthiness directive to require new placards and procedures in some Cessna twins not approved for flight in known icing conditions, in the event of an inadvertent icing encounter, as “not needed or appropriate.”
“Cockpits are overloaded with placards as is, and more placard requirements take away from the effectiveness of the already displayed, most important placards,” wrote Rokita, an AOPA member, in his July 18 letter to the Department of Transportation. Icing, said Rokita, is “an industry-wide concern,” that should not single out one company for regulatory focus.
A new FAA policy on obstructive sleep apnea that addresses many of the concerns raised by AOPA is scheduled to take effect March 2.
AOPA and the National Business Aviation Association have jointly filed an amicus, or friend of the court, brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of the ongoing legal battle over the future of Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
AOPA worked with the flight training industry and FAA to quickly resolve a problem that suddenly put many rating applications on hold.
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