FAA Puts the Freeze on Takeoffs with Polished Frost

 - December 1, 2009, 10:52 AM

The FAA yesterday issued a final rule that prohibits Part 91K, 135 and 121 operators from taking off with “polished frost”–meaning frost buffed to make it smooth–on an aircraft’s wings, stabilizers and control surfaces. The new rule will take effect on Jan. 30, 2010. The FAA already prohibits major and regional air carriers from operating with polished frost. Previous FAA guidance recommended removing all wing frost before takeoff, but allowed it to be polished smooth if the aircraft manufacturer’s recommended procedures were followed. However, the FAA said that manufacturers never published these procedures. “The FAA has advised pilots not to take off with frost or ice contaminating their wings for years because it made good sense,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “Now, it’s the law.” The new rules include four alternatives for removing frost: using wing covers to prevent frost accumulation on wings, waiting for frost to melt, storing the aircraft in a heated hangar or de-icing the wing surface. The new rules also clarify that affected aircraft must have functioning de-icing or anti-icing equipment for VFR and IFR flights into known or forecast light or moderate icing conditions.