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EASA issues safety bulletin on proper ground de-icing of aircraft following several incidents
31 July 2018

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a safety bulletin to remind authorities and operators that personnel involved in the process of ground de-icing of aircraft should be aware of the importance of conducting effective de-icing procedures.

The bulletin was issued in response to several incidents where improper ground de-icing of the incident aircraft was a factor. One of those incidents occurred in November 2016 when a Swedish Avro RJ100 returned to land at Gothenburg Airport after encountering severe control issues after takeoff. It was concluded that the aircraft suffered vibrations due to the unbalance of the elevator system that arose due to ice contamination. As the report states: “It is apparent from the investigation that the personnel who were to inspect the aircraft prior to the flight did not detect all ice contamination, which meant the de-icing order did not cover all of the ice contamination, and that there were shortcomings in the de-icing actually carried out.
The incident was partly caused by the fact that the operator lacked enough detailed procedures for performing a complete contamination inspection, and that the existing routine’s was not fully applied, partly by the fact that the operator had not properly checked, evaluated and controlled the subcontractor’s working methods.
A contributing factor was that the de-icing operation had insufficient organisational support to help the staff to resist requests of departure on time and to ensure that the de-icing was properly executed despite actual or experienced time shortage.”

Consequently, EASA issued four recommendations to authorities and operators:

  1. EASA recommends that air operators take note of this SIB, ensure that training of the involved personnel is conducted in accordance with the applicable procedures, and check their competency.
  2. EASA recommends that air operators allow suitable time and ensure adequate visibility conditions for the de-icing personnel to properly conduct the de-icing of the aircraft, including the post de-icing checks.
  3. EASA recommends that air operators disseminate the SIB to their contracted ground de-/anti-icing service providers and pay particular attention to the above-mentioned recommendations during their audits by checking compliance of the ground de-icing service providers with their training syllabi and operations manuals. This process should be captured through the operator’s management system.
  4. EASA recommends that NAAs pay particular attention to the above-mentioned recommendations in their oversight programmes.