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Top 5 tips for winter weather engine operations

December 29, 2015

Every autumn flight crews are reminded to get back into their Flight Crew Operating Manuals and review Cold Weather Operating procedures for the upcoming season. Starting in November, North America regularly deals with snow, ice, extreme cold, and what seems like a never-ending parade of frontal systems.

If you’re an operator looking to get in front of cold weather systems this winter, here are 5 tips to help ensure that your CF34 or CFM56 powered aircraft is ready for winter:

  1. It is the ultimate responsibility of the pilot-in-command to make sure that the airplane is in a condition for safe flight prior to takeoff. Sometimes it helps to re-state the basics.

  2. Use of ATIS or other means to acquire accurate ambient temperature and other pertinent meteorological conditions cannot be overemphasized. The indicated SAT on EFIS cannot be used before takeoff since the TAT probe gives inaccurate readings on the ground when the airplane is static or at low forward speed.

  3. Critical aircraft surfaces are defined to be wings, horizontal stabilizer, control surfaces, upper surfaces of the fuselage and engine inlets. If the upper surface of the fuselage is contaminated with ice, snow, or frost (through which it is not possible to distinguish surface features (markings and lines), then the surface must be de-iced.

  4. Do not spray de-icing fluid on wheel brake assemblies, in the APU inlet, or engine inlets.

  5. A thorough and vigilant pre-flight inspection of the engines is required during cold weather operations. While use of inlet plugs and cowl covers is recommended, this equipment does not totally eliminate contamination of the engine inlet. For a more detailed discussion on engine pre-flight, please review the attached article.

 Are you a pilot or a member of a flight crew? What tips would you add to ensure your aircraft is prepared for winter weather?

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