Icing: Don't let it drag you down
Did you know?
The GA fatal accident rate has remained relatively flat over the past five years, despite FAA, NTSB, and industry efforts to improve safety. The FAA's goal is to reduce the GA fatal accident rate by 10% over a 10-year period (2009-2018).
- FAA Administrator Huerta Calls for More Action on GA Safety
- Are you prepared for icing? Pilot Adam O'Hara and Administrator Huerta discuss icing
- Are you using NOAA's NWS weather resources?
Don't become a victim of "get-there-itis."
Feeling overconfident? It's time to review the basics before your next proficiency check:
- AOPA: IFR Fix — Benchmarking the Basics
- FAA: Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC) Guidance (PDF)
- FAA Safety Briefing: Ready for the Soup? Tips on Maintaining IFR Proficiency (PDF)
Are you using in-cockpit (datalink) weather? Do you know its limitations? Learn more here:
Do you know what you're heading into?
NOAA NWS and the Got Weather? Campaign
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) has joined the Got Weather campaign. NOAA's NWS delivers weather information. Aviation weather experts provide forecasts of aviation hazards such as icing, turbulence, and convection. Advisories, forecasts and other weather information is available through a wide-variety of sources, including the popular Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) website, one-stop shopping at the "Standard Briefing" webpage on ADDS links many of NOAA's aviation weather products. Learn more at /about/initiatives/got_weather/noaa/.
FAA Joins NOAA's Weather-Ready Nation
NOAA's Weather-Ready Nation is improving the nation's readiness against extreme weather, water, and climate events. Everyone, not just pilots, can be prepared for weather and help strengthen America's resilience against extreme weather. The devastating impacts of extreme events can be reduced through improved readiness.
FAA's Icing Weather Research
Icing is one of the major weather hazards to aviation, especially for general aviation aircraft. The icing hazard impacts aircraft on the ground awaiting take-off to aircraft at cruise altitudes. Improvements to icing weather products, along with development of new capabilities, are expected to improve aircraft safety.
The FAA's icing weather research is focused on improving the content and access to weather diagnosis and forecast capabilities for use by all pilots using the National Airspace System (NAS). The purpose of the icing research is to develop automated diagnostic and forecast icing capabilities that will be used by pilots, flight crews, dispatchers and meteorologists to make timely decisions on icing threat areas, optimized routings, and areas to avoid. The FAA's Aviation Weather Research Program, through the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), is sponsoring three major icing research programs: 1) In-Flight; 2) Terminal Area Icing Weather Information for NextGen (TAIWIN); and 3) High Ice Water Content (HIWC).
Ceiling and Visibility in Alaska
Adverse ceiling and visibility (C&V) conditions impact the safety and efficiency of the National Airspace System (NAS), especially in Alaska where restricted C&V causes a disproportionately high number of fatal General Aviation (GA) accidents. These accidents often result from GA pilots operating under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and unexpectedly enter an area of Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC). In Alaska, flying into unexpected IMC is common, and often deadly, because of the prevalence of remote, mountainous terrain where pilots must navigate through narrow corridors, or passes. The weather observed on either end is typically not representative of conditions in the pass (and information from inside the pass is limited to non-existent). While the FAA's recent introduction of weather cameras for the most heavily trafficked Alaskan passes and remote airfields has improved flight safety, more work is needed to integrate this visual information into flight planning, cockpit decision-making and the weather observation and forecast system.
The FAA's Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP) is currently sponsoring research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research to create an advanced C&V algorithm for Alaska that, as a first step, will produce a rapidly updated Alaska C&V analysis. This research will assimilate weather sensors, satellite imagery, numerical forecast models, and weather cameras to provide an automated, rapidly updated C&V grid for the entire state. This analysis will more accurately depict C&V conditions over remote areas where no traditional weather observations exist. A new and exciting aspect of this research is the development of a capability to automatically analyze visual information from FAA weather cameras and obtain a quantifiable measure (or at least a flight category characterization) of the C&V conditions in the camera's visual field. FAA weather cameras may then yield new weather data points for use within the C&V algorithm to improve its accuracy over remote, data sparse areas where only camera data is available.
The FAA is also sponsoring research into improving icing and turbulence analyses and forecasts in Alaska.
NextGen is now for GA! Here's what you need to know about technologies that can provide weather services to GA pilots.
Flight Information Service — Broadcast (FIS-B) is an FAA data link service that provides meteorological and aeronautical data to the cockpit for aircraft operating in the United States National Airspace System (NAS). FIS-B provides a suite of weather and aeronautical information products so pilots have timely information of regional weather & NAS status/changes that could impact flight. FIS-B is a continuous uplink broadcast over the UAT link from each of the 600+ ADS-B ground-based Radio Stations (RS). Many pilots are familiar with commercial subscription data link services that are provided via satellite. Let's compare the commercial satellite systems and the FAA's ground-based approach. With the satellite approach, a single broadcast transmitter is providing broadcast data to subscribing users for the entire service area (i.e. the NAS). With the FAA's ground-based approach, which is available subscription-free to pilots equipping with ADS-B In on the UAT link, each RS is broadcasting a specific subset of the FIS-B data centered on that RSs location. FIS-B is limited to line of sight to the RS being used. Consequently, coverage is limited at most GA airports on the airport surface. When airborne, the specific products a pilot receives is dependent on the aircraft's altitude and the FIS-B service volume. Pilots should be aware of FIS-B's capabilities and limitations and be particularly alert and understand the limitations associated with individual products.
Learn more about FIS-B service volumes and products:
Get Involved — explore more resources on weather topics and flight planning: Publications, Guides and Tools
- FAA/Industry Training Standards — Personal and Weather Risk Assessment Guide (PDF)
- Personal Minimums Development Guide (PDF)
- Weather Radar Echo Terms
- How to obtain a good weather briefing (PDF)
- Learn about one pilot's encounter with a thunderstorm
- The Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) tool is designed to meet the needs of low-altitude VFR emergency responders.
- Painless Pilot Weather Briefing (PDF)
- Smart Self Briefings: Maximizing Internet Resources (PDF)
- Do's and Don'ts of Datalink Weather (PDF)
- Key to Aerodrome Forecast (TAF) and Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) (PDF)
FAA Safety Briefing and other articles
- Fearsomely Foul: Dealing with Fog, Freezing Precip, and Other Nasties from the North (FAA Safety Briefing — May June 2012): (PDF)
- On Thin Ice: Taking off with a little frost won't hurt — or will it? (FAA Aviation News — November December 2009, P.6): (PDF)
- Ice Belongs in Drinks: Inflight icing encounters of the dangerous kind (FAA Aviation News — November December 2009, P.9): (PDF)
- When the Runway Becomes an Ice Rink: Staying safe on slick and slushy surfaces (FAA Aviation News — November December 2009, P.15): (PDF)
- Icing — Hope is not a Strategy (FAA Aviation News — November December 2007, P. 22): (PDF)
- Frost: Pretty but Dangerous (PDF)
- Pilot Safety Announcement: It's a Drag
- Safety Advisor: Aircraft Icing (PDF)
- Safety Advisor: Aircraft Deicing and Anti-Icing Equipment (PDF)
- Safety Brief: Cold Facts (PDF)
- Real Pilot Story: Ambushed by Ice
- Real Pilot Story: VFR in a Snowstorm
- Real Pilot Story: Icing Encounter
- Accident Case Study: Airframe Icing
- Accident Case Study: Delayed Reaction
- A Message from FAA Administrator Michael Huerta
- Pilot Adam O'Hara and Administrator Huerta discuss icing
- Safety Video: Flying the Weather — Airframe Icing
- Safety Video: Flying the Weather — Picking Up Ice