Winter is coming! And all air operators should know what to do to prepare for safe winter flying
Wingman certified operators know that safety is paramount and thorough flight planning, as it is essential for business aviation’s success, depends on rigorous safety criteria. Winter flying, however, poses specific challenges, especially when you need to get to smaller airports under icing conditions.
For Latin Americans, ice, snow and freezing rain may be the last thing on our minds as most countries in the region enjoy very favorable weather conditions all year round – with the exception of the Southern Cone, of course. But if you are planning to fly to North America over the next couple of months – whether you own a business jet or rely on the services of an exclusive air operator – you should know that winter is coming, and you must prepare for safe winter flying. Most operators in South America, for example, know that exhaustive flight planning is essential for business aircraft safety. Winter flying, however, poses specific challenges, especially when you need to get to smaller airports under icing conditions. That is why, at South American Brokers, we believe there are certain aspects that all air carriers, pilots and crewmembers must take into account to improve the safety and efficiency of winter operations.
First, all operators and pilots should review the FAA’s Takeoff and Landing Performance Assessment initiative (TALPA) and Holdover Times and Allowance Guidance. All airports complying with TALPA regulations in the US began using a new Runway Assessment and Condition Reporting system in 2016. So, pilots should study the runway condition assessment matrix (RCAM) using their aircraft performance data to coordinate all the required maneuvers and braking actions.
Holdover time, on the other hand, is the estimated period of which anti-icing or deicing fluid will prevent the accumulation of ice, snow or frost on the aircraft based on its composition, purpose and procedure for application. In this sense, fluids are classified as Type I through Type IV. Type I, for example, is a thin deicing fluid which removes ice and snow from aircraft surface while the other three fluids have thicker viscosities and act as anti-icing agents by adhering to control surfaces and delaying ice buildup. Evidently, several factors, such as aircraft size and type, current and forecasted weather and your planned operations, must be taken into account when deciding what type of anti-icing or deicing procedure you should follow.
It is also important to call the airport to confirm ramp or hangar space availability, and existing snow-related hazards. Furthermore, pilots should confirm avionics compatibility with the airport’s approaches. Finally, it is convenient to remove freezable fluids from the aircraft’s cabin and water system upon arrival and turn on the heat and let the airplane warm up before departing.
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