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FAAST Tip: Winter Ground Operations

By Pieter M. Groenendijk

Winter safety

As winter gets into full swing across the country, we should be aware of its impact on our surface operations at the airport. Operating on a snow or ice covered surface – either in a ground vehicle or an aircraft – requires an extra degree of caution. (I know I’m ready for spring! – Ed.)

Safety Tip – Airport Surface Deviations
Notice Number: NOTC2731
Ground Operations
As winter gets into full swing across the country, we should be aware of its impact on our surface operations at the airport. Operating on a snow or ice covered surface – either in a ground vehicle or an aircraft – requires an extra degree of caution. Movement of ground equipment should be done in a manner that allows you to avoid sliding or skidding into other equipment or aircraft, or skidding across hold lines.

Extreme caution is also needed when towing an aircraft due to the added weight and the fact that most of the time you’re relying solely on the braking action of the tug to stop both the aircraft and the tug. On wet, slick, or icy surfaces, the aircraft in tow can suddenly jackknife out of control as you turn or attempt to stop.
 
The same cautions must also be adhered to when taxiing an aircraft in these conditions. When diminished braking action is present, aircraft can slide off taxiways and runways if one isn’t careful. When approaching hold lines and turns, be sure to use minimal speed to ensure your ability to come to a stop prior to the hold line or to avoid skidding off the taxiway during a turn.
 
As with all ground operations, keep your eyes outside the cockpit while taxiing and adhere to all air traffic control instructions.

Additional information about ground operations can be found in chapter two of the Airplane Flying Handbook, available here.

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