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Features February 2013 Issue

Meteorology of Icing

We now have a tremendously enhanced understanding of in-flight icing and tools are available that will allow us to better predict—and avoid—this hazard.

Icing is one of the most feared hazards of flight. In the extreme, the aircraft becomes enshrouded in a thick, solid mass that reduces lift and thrust as the twin effects of drag and gravity overcome our ability to maintain controlled flight. Not only is the shape of our airfoils changed, but ice accumulation dramatically increases drag, clogs pitot tubes, jams control surfaces, blocks undercarriage doors, obstructs engine intakes, and the final insult, covers the windshield. We may not even be aware of how extensive the ice is until a high angle of attack or unusual power settings are required. At this point premature and significant aging may instantly occur within the cockpit.

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