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Hairy moment 'at sea'

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    Posted: 11 Oct 2018 at 12:17am
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Flying home mid-afternoon on a provincial flight this week, the pilot announced we were at cruising height and would be at our destination in 20 minutes. Calm seas below with the coast in distant view. Nek minute, we enter some cloud followed by horrible creaks and an audible change in engine sound. An announcement comes over the address system to prepare the craft for landing. Yeah right! I pointed out the ice forming around the propellor housing to my wife as we changed altitude. Some very anxious passengers and an eerie silence as we sat facing an ashen-faced stewardess. About 5 minutes later, the co-pilot comes over the PA to say the strange noises were ice on the propellors.

How common is this occurrence in NZ? I have subsequently done some googling of our incident with alarming results. Is prop-heating compulsory on all commercial passenger craft in NZ?
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote MacSkipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2018 at 7:01am
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Sounds like unusual weather conditions - changing altitude would be enough to hit warmer air I imagine - I know some aircraft have heaters on leading edge for de-icing, worse part is when ice breaks off and hits wing.
Good fishing trip nothing breaks, great trip catch fish.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote MJ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2018 at 7:19am
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Some years ago I was in a similar situation and there were constant loud bangs and cracks against the fuselage which the pilot announced were ice pieces being flung off the props.Very disconcerting. Glad you landed safely Keith.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Steps Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2018 at 8:20am
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Stuff wedont really think about much..
Was chatting to the son few yrs back.. he builds services remote communication towers.
He was say that often they have to wait, even in summer, on some towers even in coro and waikato, they have to wait around till mid morning before entering the fenced area because of the pointed ice stalactites dropping. At the top is snow attitudes.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Mr Moritz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2018 at 1:26pm
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Main worry with ice is when it forms on wings and changes the airflow over the wing thus reducing the amount of lift the wings are producing. Generally occurs in air temperatures from zero to minus forty degrees centigrade. There can be moisture in clouds which is super cooled down to as much as minus forty and yet remain liquid. This freezes on contact with aircraft and builds up, causing problems. If he can pilot will ascend or descend to another altitude to get out of it
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote Keeweechris Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2018 at 5:27pm
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It’s very normal especially this time of year to encounter icing conditions while flying. All commercial aircraft that fly in clouds have heaters of the prop blades and expanding ‘boots’ on the front edge of the wings (the black bits you can see). These work by either heating up so the ice comes off (props) or breaking it up so it falls off (wings). If it builds up rapidly we sometimes increase the rpm of the props as this helps throw it off the blades too. Sometimes the ice comes off the props and bangs into the fuselage causing the odd strange noise/bang... can be a little alarming to the passengers but all very normal and safe and systems doing as they are suppose to do.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Keith C Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2018 at 7:23pm
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Keeweechris - 'All commercial aircraft that fly in clouds have heaters of the prop blades and expanding ‘boots’ - Is that a regulation for all airlines operating commercially in NZ?
(e.g. for a dhc 8 315Q)

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Keeweechris Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2018 at 8:29pm
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Hi Keith, it’s a regulation for any aircraft who wants to fly in cloud or ‘known icing conditions’ to be fitted with de-icing equipment and certified for it by the manufacturer. This is fairly standard across the world. If you have an aircraft and it’s not certified and equipped for it you cannot fly it in icing conditions.

In practical terms all airline aircraft are certified for that and equipped to fly in those conditions (you couldn’t operate commercially without it). So yep any aircraft like the dash 8, atr, Saab along with larger jets etc are all certified for it and operate in icing conditions daily. Whilst sometimes the bangs and thuds of the ice being shed can be alarming it’s all perfectly safe. Hope that reassures you!

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Kevin.S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2018 at 9:15pm
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Many years ago I had to fly from the UK to the US on business.  Returning to the UK we were on the last plane out of East coast US before it was shut down for days with a big snow storm.  Our plane broke and it took hours to get the replacement round onto the runway.  In this time the airport had shut down, only our gate in the terminal still had lights on.  All the shops / cafes had shut and everyone had gone home.  I remember sitting at the gate watching the snow plows going up and down the runway clearing the snow so we could take off.  Since then I've seen documentaries about planes crashing because of iced up pitot tubes and all sorts of problems, glad I didn't know about any of that while I was watching the snow fall on our plane.
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