Resulting Safety Initiatives

The FAA has issued Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) Docket No. FAA-2007-27654, which proposes to amend the airworthiness standards applicable to transport category airplanes certificated for flight in icing conditions. The proposed standards would require a means to ensure timely activation of the airframe ice protection system. This proposed regulation is the result of information gathered from a review of icing accidents and incidents, and is intended to improve the level of safety for new airplane designs relative to operations in icing conditions. Comments on the proposed rule have been received, and the rulemaking process is continuing, pending adoption of the final rule.

The proposed rulemaking would amend 14 CFR part 25 by adding specific requirements for airplane performance and handling qualities for flight in icing conditions. Further, the proposal amends § 25.1419 to address certification approval for flight in icing conditions for airplanes without ice protection features. Those proposed changes do not impact this rulemaking. However, this rulemaking may result in minor conforming changes to the airplane performance and handling qualities for flight in icing conditions. In consideration of the foregoing, the FAA proposes to amend part 25 of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

§ 25.1419 Ice Protection.

(e) One of the following methods of icing detection and activation of the airframe ice protection system must be provided:

(1) A primary ice detection system that automatically activates or alerts the flight crew to activate the airframe ice protection system;

(2) A definition of visual cues for recognition of the first sign of ice accretion on a specified surface combined with an advisory ice detection system that alerts the flight crew to activate the airframe ice protection system;
(3) Identification of conditions conducive to airframe icing as defined by an appropriate static or total air temperature and visible moisture for use by the flight crew to activate the airframe ice protection system.

(f) Unless the applicant shows that the ice protection system need not be operated during specific phases of flight, the requirements of paragraph (e) are applicable to all phases of flight.

(g) After the initial activation of the ice protection system-

(1) The ice protection system must operate continuously;

(2) The airplane must be equipped with a system that automatically cycles the ice protection system; or
(3) An ice detection system must be provided to alert the flight crew each time the ice protection system must be cycled.

(h) Procedures for operation of the ice protection system must be established and documented in the Airplane Flight Manual.


The NTSB cited breakdowns in information flow among the FAA, the operator, and the airplane manufacturer as a causal factor in the Comair accident. Embraer had issued an AFM revision that required activation of ice protection immediately upon entering icing conditions, and increases in operating speeds when in icing conditions. However, the FAA had not mandated incorporation of the revised AFM material into air carrier operations. The NTSB stated that if these operational changes had been made mandatory by the FAA, the accident would not have occurred.

Recognizing the need for improved authority-to-authority communication, on September 26, 2006, the FAA released Order 8040.5 describing the policy and procedures for developing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness directives (AD) on imported products where the State of Design Authority has issued mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI). The order introduced a process for evaluating all MCAI and determining whether individual MCAI meet certain criteria that would permit a quicker issuance of an FAA AD.

Further, the FAA has implemented a process for Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC) that provides notification to other international regulatory authorities when the FAA issues an airworthiness directive. This is the reciprocal action to that identified above in FAA Order 8040.5. Further, the FAA has instituted a process of regular continued operational safety program reviews with all manufacturers who hold, or have applied for, FAA type certificates on their aircraft. This review program allows a more open and consistent avenue of communication between the FAA, counterpart regulatory authorities, and manufacturers, should airworthiness issues arise.

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