Aviation Weather

full text of the classic FAA guide


Icing is where you find it. As with, turbulence, icing may be local in extent and transient in character. Forecasters can identify regions in which icing is possible. However, they cannot define the precise small pockets in which it occurs. You should plan your flight to avoid those areas where icing probably will be heavier than your aircraft can handle. And you must be prepared to avoid or to escape the hazard when encountered en route.

Here are a few specific points to remember:

  1. Before takeoff, check weather for possible icing areas along your planned route. Check for pilot reports, and if possible talk to other pilots who have flown along your proposed route.

  2. If your aircraft is not equipped with deicing or anti-icing equipment, avoid areas of icing. Water (clouds or precipitation) must be visible and outside air temperature must be near 0° C or colder for structural ice to form.

  3. Always remove ice or frost from airfoils before attempting takeoff.

  4. In cold weather, avoid, when possible, taxiing or taking off through mud, water, or slush. If you have taxied through any of these, make a preflight check to ensure freedom of controls.

  5. When climbing out through an icing layer, climb at an airspeed a little faster than normal to avoid a stall.

  6. Use deicing or anti-icing equipment when accumulations of ice are not too great. When such equipment becomes less than totally effective, change course or altitude to get out of the icing as rapidly as possible.

  7. If your aircraft is not equipped with a pitot-static system deicer, be alert for erroneous readings from your airspeed indicator, rate-of-climb indicator, and altimeter.

  8. In stratiform clouds, you can likely alleviate icing by changing to a flight level and above-freezing temperatures or to one colder than −10° C. An altitude change also may take you out of clouds. Rime icing in stratiform clouds can be very extensive horizontally.

  9. In frontal freezing rain, you may be able to climb or descend to a layer warmer than freezing. Temperature is always warmer than freezing at some higher altitude. If you are going to climb, move quickly; procrastination may leave you with too much ice. If you are going to descend, you must know the temperature and terrain below.

  10. Avoid cumuliform clouds if at all possible. Clear ice may be encountered anywhere above the freezing level. Most rapid accumulations are usually at temperatures from 0°C to −15° C.

  11. Avoid abrupt maneuvers when your aircraft is heavily coated with ice since the aircraft has lost some of its aerodynamic efficiency.

  12. When “iced up,” fly your landing approach with power.

The man on the ground has no way of observing actual icing conditions. His only confirmation of the existence or absence of icing comes from pilots. Help your fellow pilot and the weather service by sending pilot reports when you encounter icing or when icing is forecast but none encountered. Use the table in Section 16 of AVIATION WEATHER SERVICES as a guide in reporting intensities.

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