By David Learmount in London

US association, FAA and manufacturer to train pilots in bid to reduce accident rates, with stress on icing conditions

A concerted campaign to “enhance the fleet safety” of Cessna 208 Caravan operators has been launched by the US Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association (RACCA) with the Federal Aviation Administration and the aircraft manufacturer. Since January 2005 there have been 14 hull loss accidents worldwide involving Caravan series aircraft, of which six have been fatal and four have involved icing.

RACCA president Stan Bernstein says the difference between this and programmes Cessna has previously run on its own is that the association has generated more operator input, which it is well placed to do because the 50 member carriers’ fleet totals about 350, he says.

By the time of RACCA’s 5-7 June spring conference in Wichita, Kansas, Bernstein says the association will be able to announce a programme of prioritised pilot training and education that will target the circumstances professional Caravan flightcrew can expect to face. Flight in icing conditions, Bernstein says, will be a critical part of the campaign.

He says: “Cessna and RACCA have agreed to develop comprehensive training designed to enhance pilots’ awareness of the effects of airframe icing on aircraft performance. The programme will demonstrate how the aircraft should be flown in such conditions [and] actions to ensure safe operation in icing.” Most of RACCA member carriers’ operations entail flying at night, often in adverse weather conditions, Bernstein says.

Meanwhile, there are outstanding FAA airworthiness directives (AD), Bernstein says, designed to enhance Caravan performance in icing conditions. These include de-icing boots for the forward end of the belly pod, and on the leading edges of the landing-gear struts and wheel fairings – but the AD has been delayed because the manufacturer’s products are not ready. There is also an AD requiring pilots to make tactile checks of wing upper surfaces for ice, snow or frost before start-up and taxi for take-off.

Source: Flight International