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Thu, Mar 04, 2004

CASA: Fuel System Icing Can Be Fatal

Agency Offers Valuable Seminars

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia is conducting a national program of seminars to inform pilots of light aircraft of the dangers of fuel system icing. The series of 10 special seminars on icing in carburetors and fuel induction systems begins in Launceston on March 22. The seminars are being held in the wake of a report into a fatal light aircraft crash at Trefoil Island in Tasmania where fuel system icing may have been a significant factor.

This led to a recommendation from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau for additional advisory information to be provided to pilots on engine fuel induction system icing. In the 10 years before the Trefoil Island accident there were eight accidents in Australia related to fuel system icing, with two fatalities. When ice forms in the carburetor or fuel induction system of an aircraft it obstructs the smooth flow of the fuel/air mixture, causing a reduction in engine power which then results in a loss of airspeed and altitude. The onset of fuel system icing is often insidious and can occur in temperatures as high as 37 degrees when humidity is 50 per cent or higher.

Al Bridges, of CASA's Safety Promotion branch, says the possibility of fuel system icing exists for most flights. "It can happen in the tropics as well as in the cooler parts of the country because the key is the amount of moisture in the air," Mr. Bridges says. "CASA has re-produced an ATSB icing probability chart that will be made available to light aircraft pilots to help them predict when icing is more likely. If pilots calculate icing is possible then they can be ready to look out for the signs of its onset, such as engine power loss, and take action to apply heat to the carburetor or induction system. The seminars will also look at the risks of airframe icing, because in the skies ice can be a killer."



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