The US Federal Aviation Administration has finalised amended certification standards requiring transport category aircraft manufacturers to either have icing protection systems that automatically activate or provide a method to alert pilots that the system should be activated.

The final rule follows more than a decade of research by the FAA, NASA and others initiated by the 1994 fatal crash of an American Eagle ATR 72 near Roselawn, Indiana due to ice build-up on the wings.

Under the rule, new aircraft and those undergoing "significant changes" that affect icing safety must either have an ice detection system that automatically activates or alerts pilots to turn on the system; a definition of visual signs that indicate ice build-up along with an advisory system; or a method of identifying temperature and moisture conditions conducive to airframe icing, alerting pilots of the need to turn on the protection system.

Regardless of the activation method, ice protection systems must then operate continuously, automatically turn on or turn off, or alert the pilots that the system must be cycled again after the initial activation. The agency is also considering a rule that would require the existing fleet to retrofit with the upgraded ice protection systems.

Source: Flight International