Ramon Lopez/WASHINGTON DC Gilbert Sedbon/PARIS

ATR is to press the US Federal Aviation Administration to lift icing restrictions on the ATR 72 following a flight test programme which, it says, shows that there is no problem with the aircraft.

The flight evaluation, sponsored by the manufacturer, took place at Edwards AFB, California, between 16 and 21 December 1994.

It was designed to address issues raised by the FAA, which has prohibited ATR 72 flights in actual or forecast icing following the American Eagle fatal crash near Chicago on 31 October, 1994.

Ten tests were planned, each lasting 2-3h. An ATR 72 supplied by the aircraft maker was flown behind a US Air Force Boeing KC-135 water-spraying tanker with a Learjet chase-plane.

The tanker sprayed droplets measuring 40-70microns in diameter, which tend to lead to rapid icing and which exceed the certification requirements.

The purpose of the flight test was to revalidate the ATR 72's original certification concerning aircraft icing; and to gather new data about ATR 72 performance in freezing rain and drizzle.

ATR felt that, the Edwards AFB tests were necessary to counter the conclusions, of the FAA's special certification review. The company says that the tests could not induce severe loss of roll control, because of wing icing suspected as the cause of the American Eagle crash.

A joint report by all test participants was to be finalised before the end of the year. "We feel that the test results will more than prove our point that the FAA ban should be dropped," says ATR.

Source: Flight International