Hearing Pushes FAA To Speed Icing Safety Regulations

 - February 25, 2010, 9:56 AM

The House aviation subcommittee yesterday held a hearing on aircraft icing to address issues brought to light by the NTSB’s recent “Most Wanted” list of “unacceptably slow” progress on icing rulemaking. The NTSB wants the FAA to accelerate rulemaking on design and approval for flight-in-icing conditions based on research of supercooled-large-droplet icing; apply the new requirements to existing airplanes; and require that pilots deploy de-icing equipment immediately upon entering icing conditions. One area of focus was how the NextGen ATC system might facilitate transmission of real-time weather information to airliner cockpits. “We must consider the need for technology to allow pilots to avoid entering hazardous conditions,” said Rory Kay, executive air safety committee chairman for the Air Line Pilots Association, International. “Pilots need onboard equipment, training and forecasting technology,” he added. Oddly, none of the panel members, including Kay, FAA deputy associate administrator for aviation safety John Hickey and NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman, pointed out that in-cockpit weather data is already available from providers like XM and WSI. But lacking a mandate for installation, airlines tend not to use this technology even though it is found in the cockpits of thousands of general aviation aircraft.