NTSB Warning: Ice on Wings Doesn’t Fly

 - December 10, 2007, 7:09 AM

As a result of its ongoing investigation into the November 28 fatal takeoff accident of a Challenger 604 in Montrose, Colo., the NTSB has issued a special alert involving the detection and effects of ice accumulation on aircraft wings.

The Safety Board said, “Some pilots believe that if they cannot see ice or frost on the wing from a distance, or maybe through a cockpit or cabin window, it must not be there–or if it is there and they cannot see it under those circumstances, then the accumulation must be too minute to be of any consequence.”

However, fine particles of frost or ice the size of a grain of table salt and distributed as sparsely as one per square centimeter over a wing’s upper surface can destroy enough lift to prevent an airplane from taking off, according to the Board. To download the advisory, go to www.ntsb.gov/pressrel/2004/041229.htm.