Helicopter mountain rescue operations are among the most demanding flying there is. Pilots are challenged by pushing the performance envelope of their machines in notoriously unpredictable weather, and when the mission is rescue, they face another layer of difficulty, driven by the desire not only to survive their mission, but to save lives too.
Every few years, a debate erupts about whether the phenomenon of ice bridging is real or something questionable that pilots discuss while hangar flying or warning of the dangers of flying in icing conditions. The issue recently resurfaced at an NTSB public meeting about the icing-related crash of a Cessna Citation 560 in Pueblo, Colo., on Feb. 16, 2005.
Much has been written lately about the potential cost of not de-icing a business airplane before attempting to fly it, so we posed the question recently in our AINalerts twice-weekly electronic news bulletin, “What about the cost of de-icing? The price seems to vary wildly. What is the most you have paid to have a business jet de-iced? What type of airplane was it, which facility de-iced it, and what were the circumstances?”
Several Beechjet flameouts have led the NTSB to make recommendations to prevent recurrences. The final recommendation, if adopted, would have wide implications: require the FAA and industry to pursue research to develop an ice detector that would alert pilots to internal engine icing and require that it be installed on new production turbofan engines and retrofitted to existing turbofan engines.