Wet snow flight hazards highlighted in National Transportation Safety Board safety alert

The National Transportation Safety Board issued Safety Alert SA-082 Thursday, highlighting the importance of pilots assessing, understanding and preparing for the risk of wet snow and icing conditions before flight.

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The “Flight in Snow” safety alert provides guidance to pilots, dispatchers and operators regarding flight during wet snow and icing conditions. Wet snow contains liquid particles on the snowflakes or liquid particles falling amongst the snowflakes compared to dry snow in which there is no liquid. The liquid in wet snow has the potential to compromise flight safety through structural, engine and windshield ice accumulation.


“As we go into the fall season with cooling temperatures, pilots need to remain vigilant for snow and icing conditions,” said Dana Schulze, Director of the NTSB’s Office of Aviation Safety. “Pilots must conduct a pre-flight, comprehensive review of weather, including an assessment of the potential for icing, particularly when snow is part of the forecast.”


Safety Alert SA-082 emphasizes the following guidance to pilots, dispatchers and operators for flight in snow, including:

  • Consider the icing threat and follow icing mitigation or avoidance procedures,

  • Be honest with yourself about your skill limitations. Plan ahead with cancellation or diversion alternatives.

  • Ensure risk assessments for flight into snow conditions include a review of the potential for icing that can accompany snow,

  • Ensure risk assessments contain more than just a review of ceiling and visibility conditions, and

  • Consider including information about the various snow types in training programs.

Source: National Transportation Safety Board