Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Got ice?

Flying in the winter means more flying in ice. The aircraft I fly is certified for flight into icing conditions.

On my aircraft the wings, engine cowls and tail are all heated with extremely hot air from the engines. The various probes and windshield are heated with electricity.  On each side of the aircraft nose is an ice detector. The detector is shaped like a wing and is designed to pick up ice quickly. The detector is constantly vibrating. When ice accumulates the vibrations slow alerting the ice detection system. The system automatically kicks on the heating of the wings, cowls and tail.

This is great most of the time. A problem occurs when trying to descend or climb as the hot air being tapped from the engines both robs power being produced AND increases the idle thrust rating.

When climbing this means a slower speed as there is less thrust. When trying to make a descent it means a more shallow descent as even at idle the engines are producing higher thrust. It can be tricky.

From my seat I can barely see the edge of the right wing. The only visual cues of icing are the unheated portions of the windshield and the windshield wiper arms.

Last night we entered icing conditions around 7000 feet. It was light icing at first. While level at 4000 feet it became moderate icing. Big chunks of ice had formed on the windshield wiper arm. The anti-icing system was working and the heated portions of the windshield were clear.

Cleared for an ILS to runway 27. Winds were 010@14 gusting t0 20. Nice 20 knot direct crosswind. The tower had closed for the evening. I had previously contacted our station personnel for a field report. They reported slush on the ramp but no comment on the runway.

We broke out of the moderate icing conditions at 1400 feet AGL and saw light snow. Firm touchdown by my Captain and thankfully good braking conditions.

Since we landed with ice I left the flaps down to avoid the ice and snow compacting in the flaps which could cause them to cease moving in the morning for the departing crew.

Below is a view from the flight deck after we parked.


Today is day 4.  Go home day. Three legs. Three aircraft and two 2 hour sits. I start at noon and finish at 9:30 PM.

Being the end of the year I should have a "How much does a Regional First Officer on year 8 pay make" post soon.

1 comment:

  1. Despite the bitching and moaning, I think you've had a darn good year. You're still on track for that ego (and salary) enhancing 4th strip and '15 is likely to be your year. ( I know, you should have been a DEC, but...)
    I enjoyed your notes (and the pic) about in-flight icing. I don't remember where I first heart it 0 and it might have been from you, right here; "...just because you can does not mean that you should..." certainly applies to icing conditions. There are always options, including going around, powering through a short descent quickly (not a great choice) or sometimes just saying, "No Thanks." That's one of the many reasons that we retain two qualified pilots on commercial aircraft and entrust one of them with something very close to **absolute** authority.
    The coming year is likely to be a big one for you and '15 may put a fourth bar on your cuff. The change is far more than a title change, a trip to the tailor's shop and that handsome salary increase. The first year as CAPTAIN won't be easy, but most do just fine. What do YOU think? Best wishes,


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