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Maintenance: Is Your Flight Operation Ready for Winter?

As winter approaches, business aviation operations face the task of preparing for cold weather. Proper planning and preparedness are essential to ensure safe and efficient trips during this challenging season.

Flight departments must conduct thorough aircraft inspections to ensure reliable operations in freezing temperatures. This includes checking heating systems, deicing equipment and overall functionality. Regular maintenance checks should be scheduled to address any potential issues and ensure the proper functioning of critical systems.

The value of proper winter maintenance can’t be understated. “Anti-icing/deicing is our most significant operational challenge as an operator in northern Illinois during winter months,” said Kevin Flynn, director of aviation maintenance at Abbvie. Coordination is important for smooth operations. “We spray the aircraft with Type IV fluid in the hangar before pushing out for departure, which brings significant time savings for our passengers. This requires lots of planning and coordination with flight operations, as Type IV fluid can only be applied to a non-contaminated surface,” Flynn explained. “From a scheduling perspective, two technicians must always be scheduled for each launch during these months, as anti-icing a large cabin aircraft is a two-person event.”

Communication plays a key role in ensuring that airport winter operations run smoothly. “We hold a snow meeting at the beginning of each season with our tenants and any other users interested in attending,” said Darren Large, facilities and operations director at New Jersey’s Morristown Airport (MMU). “We will review our snow removal plan and coordination efforts between ATC, deicing operations and snow removal.”

“A lot of times, pilots are confused about getting deiced while the runway is closed and we are actively plowing.”

Darren Large Facilities and Operations Director, Morristown Airport (KMMU)

When it comes to deicing, operators should establish efficient deicing protocols, including proper communication and coordination with ground handling teams.

“At MMU, we time our runway plowing with the deicing process,” Large said. “The tower, airport and deicing crews are working together on our specific puzzle parts. A lot of times, pilots are confused about getting deiced while the runway is closed and we are actively plowing,” Large explained. By prioritizing efficient deicing procedures, flight departments can minimize delays and maintain the integrity of their operations during winter weather.

Consider specialized training for pilots and crew members, including topics such as winter weather operations, emergency procedures in freezing conditions and cold-weather survival skills. Emphasize the importance of adhering to standard operating procedures specific to cold weather operations.

Overall, thorough aircraft inspections, specialized training, advanced weather monitoring and coordinated deicing procedures are key components of a comprehensive winter preparedness plan. By implementing these strategies, flight departments can mitigate risks, minimize disruptions and maintain high safety and efficiency standards throughout winter.

Review NBAA’s winter weather resources at nbaa.org/winter.

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