Flight in Known Icing Conditions

From the Office of the Chief Counsel
JAN 15, 2009
 
Ms. Leisha Bell
Manager, Regulatory Affairs
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
421 Aviation Way
Frederick, Maryland 21702-4798
 
Dear Ms. Bell:
 
In a letter dated November 21, 2006 to the FAA Office of the Chief Counsel, Mr. Luis M. Gutierrez of your association requested the rescission of a letter of interpretation regarding flight in known icing conditions issued on June 6, 2006. On September 22, 2008, I withdrew that letter in its entirety. After considering the pilots you and other stakeholders have raised to the June 6, 2006 letter and to our Notice of Draft Letter of Interpretation on Konwn Icing Conditions published in the Federal Register on April 3, 2007 (72 FR 15931), I am issuing this interpretation.
 
Our letter of June 6, 2006 responded to a request by Mr. Robert J. Miller for a legal interpretation of “known ice” as it relates to flight operations in the context of general aviation. While various FAA regulations contain limitations on flight in known icing conditions, the regulatory provisions that most commonly affect operators of general aviation aircraft not approved and equipped for each operations apply the term only indirectly. Flight into Known Ice is not directly referenced in part 91 and known icing conditions are only referenced in subpart F, which applies to large and turbine-powered multiengine airplanes and fractional ownership program aircraft.  However, there are provisions in other subparts within part 91 that require a pilot to consider the consequences of flying in such conditions.
 
  • 14 CFR 91.9(a) states that “no person may operate a civil aircraft without complying with the operating limitations specified in the approved Airplane or Rotorcraft Flight Manual ….” These manuals may state that a particular aircraft type is not approved for flight in known icing conditions. We construe Mr. Miller’s request as seeking clarification of the meaning of “known icing conditions” as that term appears in Airplane Flight Manuals (AFM) and Pilot Operating Handbooks for many ground aviation aircraft.
  • 14 CFR 91.13 (a) states that “no person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.”
  • 14CFR 91.103 specifies that “each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight. This information must include … “for a flight under IFR or a flight not in the vicinity of the airport, weather reports and forecast…”

Click for complete letter in pdf format.  

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