Monday, March 05, 2007

Caravan icing problems under control?

For years, icing has been a problem for Cessna Caravan 208/208B aircraft, but the single-engine turboprop is "on course to end this winter without an icing accident." So says an article on, which attributes the greatly improved accident record to a mandatory re-training program for Caravan pilots that teaches them how to fly the aircraft safely in icing conditions.

The FAA-approved course, offered by Cessna, can be taken online. Cessna also offered it in a series of seminars around the country. Nearly 900 pilots have taken the course so far.

The training course was developed as part of an effort to eliminate Caravan accidents due to icing. AMTonline explains:
As the winter of 2005-06 turned into spring, federal regulators wanted to ground the Caravan, which is now heavily used as a cargo plane, during most winter flying conditions because of a series of accidents attributed to icy conditions. There were fatal accidents in Canada and in Russia. In the winter of 2004-05, there were nine accidents attributed to an ice build-up on the aircraft.

Instead, aircraft operators, represented by the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association (RACCA), met with Cessna and the FAA to find a way to keep the planes in the air. The end result is the proposed Airworthiness Directive – comment closes on the measure on March 5. (Click here to read the AD and the comments.)

This winter to date, there has been one accident involving a Caravan and ice was not a factor, says Stan Bernstein, RACCA's executive director.

"I am very, very cautious," he says. "I will feel a lot better when May comes around and there haven't been any accidents."
Pilot training is just one part of the new program. A new piece of hardware for the plane -- a low airspeed awareness system -- alerts the pilot anytime the air speed falls below 120 knots. The FAA also wants deicing boots installed on the Caravans' forward baggage pods.

If you fly (or intend to fly) Caravans, you should have a look at the whole article on

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