Business Aviation Insider nameplate
Operations

Preparing for Winter Operations

When the warm days of summer begin to fade and autumn is just around the corner, it’s time for business aviation maintenance personnel to start preparing aircraft to fly in winter weather.

“You never want to be caught off guard,” said Edward Mursko, AP, IA, CAM, an aircraft maintenance manager with 3M Aviation who manages three Gulfstreams. “In Minnesota, winter can start in October. We can start seeing morning frost in September, so you need to start preparing for winter operations near the end of August.”

Peter Stodolski – the assistant director of maintenance for a flight department of a Fortune 100 company in the Northeast that flies two Dassault Falcon business jets and two Leonardo AW139 helicopters – said his flight department also begins preparing for winter operations in late summer.

“We start in September. Knowing the aircraft will soon be using contaminated runways, we start by checking the conditions of the tires and braking system. Since the aircraft will soon be subjected to ice, deicing fluids and rain, we make sure the exterior is clean and waxed. We try to reduce every variable that could potentially be a gotcha for us during cold weather operations.”

Mursko explained that his flight department looks at the entire operation – not just the aircraft – when preparing for winter operations.

“Knowing the aircraft will soon be using contaminated runways, we start by checking conditions of the tires and braking system. ”

PETER STODOLSKI Assistant Director of Maintenance for a Northeast operator

“We are a standalone operation, and our employees perform all ramp activities, including deicing. We maintain a Type I deice truck, as well as several Type IV dispensing rigs attached to scissor lifts,” he explained.

“Our focus in late summer and early fall is on training, so our crews can complete in-house deice training covering regulations, deice operations and other site-specific procedures,” continued Mursko.

“We will also service our deicing equipment and test the quality of the Type I and Type IV products we use to ensure they meet manufacturer specifications.”

Stodolski said his flight department’s pilots and maintenance technicians also undergo extensive training each year in order to be ready for whatever winter weather may bring.

“I’ve got to give kudos to our pilot group, as every year around September they have what is essentially a safety standdown where they meet to discuss cold weather operations,” said Stodolski. “This gets them into the mindset that it will soon no longer be 80 degrees and sunny on the ramp.

“They review published deicing procedures and look at what the OEMs require,” continued Stodolski.

“They even discuss what to do to prepare the aircraft if it has to be parked outside in the freezing cold overnight at a destination,” added Stodolski. “This recurrent training helps us maintain a high level of safety.”

Once winter weather arrives, Stodolski noted that having maintenance personnel maintain constant communication with flight crews about the health of the aircraft keeps everyone in the flight department on the same page, which minimizes the challenges of operating in inclement weather.

In the final analysis, Mursko said preparing for winter operations is really all about effectively managing risk, and, if properly prepared, winter operations should not have a significant impact on normal flight operations.

Review NBAA’s winter weather resources.

May/June 2022

Better Tools to Avoid Thunderstorms

National Weather Service aviation forecasters are continually working to refine NWS services and products to help business aircraft operators avoid bad weather.
Read More

June 1, 2022

NBAA: Take Part in Survey on NextGen Weather Tech

NBAA urges all business aircraft pilots to participate in an FAA survey to make flying safer by identifying – and ultimately filling – gaps in its cockpit weather technology.
Read More

May 31, 2022

Atlantic Hurricane Season Expected to be Above Normal Again This Year

NOAA is predicting that this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1, will be above normal, forecasting 14 to 21 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes.
Read More

April 18, 2022

Podcast: Summer Storm Prep – 2022 Guidance from NBAA, FAA and National Weather Service

Every day, personnel at the FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center in Warrenton, VA work to keep aircraft flying safely across the National Airspace System and far away from the worst of what has already been a very active thunderstorm season.
Listen Now