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Wet Snow Flight Hazards Highlighted in NTSB Safety Alert

Pilots Must Conduct A Pre-Flight, Comprehensive Review Of Weather, Including An Assessment Of Icing Potential

The NTSB issued Safety Alert SA-082 this week, highlighting the importance of pilots assessing, understanding and preparing for the risk of wet snow and icing conditions before flight.

The “Flight in Snow” safety alert provides guidance to pilots, dispatchers and operators regarding flight during wet snow and icing conditions. Wet snow contains liquid particles on the snowflakes or liquid particles falling amongst the snowflakes compared to dry snow in which there is no liquid. The liquid in wet snow has the potential to compromise flight safety through structural, engine and windshield ice accumulation.

“As we go into the fall season with cooling temperatures, pilots need to remain vigilant for snow and icing conditions,” said Dana Schulze, Director of the NTSB’s Office of Aviation Safety. “Pilots must conduct a pre-flight, comprehensive review of weather, including an assessment of the potential for icing, particularly when snow is part of the forecast.”

In this photo taken Jan. 16, 2018 is an MD Helicopter Inc 369HM that crashed on January 15, 2018 in Perrysburg, OH. 

Safety Alert SA-082 emphasizes the following guidance to pilots, dispatchers and operators for flight in snow, including:

  • Consider the icing threat and follow icing mitigation or avoidance procedures,
  • Be honest with yourself about your skill limitations. Plan ahead with cancellation or diversion alternatives.
  • Ensure risk assessments for flight into snow conditions include a review of the potential for icing that can accompany snow,
  • Ensure risk assessments contain more than just a review of ceiling and visibility conditions, and
  • Consider including information about the various snow types in training programs.
FMI: Safety Alert SA-082, https://go.usa.gov/xGRMn

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