Eastern Region Icing Re-definition Unsupported

 - December 15, 2006, 5:50 AM

A recent letter from the FAA’s Eastern Region regional counsel has generated concern that the agency has abruptly changed its icing policy. Regional counsel Loretta Alkalay’s letter was in response to a request by flight instructor Robert Miller for a definition of known ice. Alkalay wrote, “Known icing conditions exist when visible moisture or high relative humidity combines with temperatures near or below freezing. Since clouds are a form of visible moisture, flying through clouds at an altitude that is near or below freezing would constitute flight into known icing conditions.” Such flights, if not approved for known icing conditions, “would constitute a violation whether the aircraft accretes ice or not.” Alkalay’s definition is not supported by the FAA’s own guidance material. The Aeronautical Information Manual defines known icing conditions as “atmospheric conditions in which the formation of ice is observed or detected in flight.” Stan Bernstein, president of the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association, met recently with the FAA Flight Standards and legal divisions. “We feel confident the Eastern Region letter will be withdrawn or modified by the FAA in short order,” he told AIN.