General aviation pilots strongly warned of dangers posed by wing ice


Pilots of corporate and general aviation planes should not take off with any amount of snow, ice or frost on the tops of wings, federal air safety officials said in an unusually broad warning issued yesterday.

The alert from the National Transportation Safety Board referred specifically to the crash of a Challenger 601 in Montrose, Colo., last month that killed three of the six people on board, including the son of NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol.

"The bottom line is that pilots should be aware that no amount of snow, ice or frost accumulation on the wing upper surface can be considered safe for takeoff," NTSB said in its alert.

The agency recommends pilots feel the wings for ice.

"History has shown that with a careful and thorough preflight inspection, including tactile inspections and proper and liberal use of deicing processes and techniques, airplanes can be operated safely in spite of the adversities encountered during winter months," the NTSB added.

The safety board's alert is directed at pilots of private and corporate aircraft. Commercial airlines have stringent rules for operating in snow and ice conditions that mandate deicing of aircraft. But pilots of smaller aircraft have the responsibility of determining whether deicing is needed.

In its bulletin issued yesterday, the NTSB said, "It has become apparent that many pilots do not recognize that minute amounts of ice adhering to a wing" can cause severe aerodynamic and control problems.

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