Aviation In Canada

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Airframe Icing

In Microsoft's Flight Simulator, often the only sign of airframe icing is the airspeed dropping to zero. This is because your pitot tube is iced over, thereby meaning no dynamic pressure to provide a reading on the instrument. In real life, airframe icing can be much more drastic. This issue of the Aviation Safety Letter, published regularly with amendments to the AIP Canada, had a number of articles this time around about airframe icing, how quickly it can develop and how nasty it can get. A pilot of a PA-24 Commanche found out first hand as his airspeed dropped, his angle of attack increased as he tried to maintain altitude, all in time to enter a spin. Other stories in there pique one's interest as well, with a great, well written summary of things to look for before flying to help you avoid it. Of course, if you're in a Dash 8 or something that can handle a lot of icing, it's a different story. But when your only de-icing or anti-icing gear is a pitot heater, you have to stay on top of your winter flying game.

The Aviation Safety Letter is published every 2nd publication cycle (every 16 weeks) and is archived at Transport Canada's website. This month's issue is not yet available here, but it should come out soon. One can learn a lot from the mistakes of others. Here is link for back issues to provide interesting reading: