During the winter months, in the blink of an eye, your airfield and any aircraft on it can quickly become victimized by inclement weather. Without a proper plan of action, weather can have detrimental effects. However, there are specific steps you can take to ensure your aircraft is prepared for the elements. This blog will provide a rundown of these steps. While the following list is not comprehensive, and you should always consult the aircraft manufacturer for instructions on weatherization procedures, they could prove to be a big help in protecting your aircraft from the elements.
The first way to protect your aircraft from poor weather is to inspect your equipment. Regardless of weather, this should always be part of your normal operations, but inclement weather makes it even more crucial. For example, before using a aircraft tug to transport your aircraft, both should be thoroughly and properly examined. This process will help you identify, eliminate, and control hazards, as well as document them for your records. You should also take this opportunity to ensure that all oil levels are adequate and there is no visible damage on your aircraft.
Not only should you be checking the oil levels of your aircraft, but it is equally important to check that you are using the appropriate type of oil. An oil that may be great for use during the warmer months could become damaging once the weather turns. There are certain oils, known as winter weight oils, that are specifically produced for use in cold weather. If you are in an area of the world with particularly harsh winters, you may also need to add a low-viscosity product to help circulate the lubricant within the engine.
In cold temperatures, tire pressure tends to drop. Tires will also get harder in cold weather and therefore lose their usual fullness and gripping capabilities. For every temperature drop of ten degrees, each tire will lose approximately one to two pounds of pressure. In extremely cold weather, you should reduce the air pressure in pneumatic tires from the standard 60 PSI to as low as 25 PSI.
If the aircraft is parked outside, it is important to cover your wings to prevent them from freezing over. Remember to remove the covers before flight.
Aircraft must be completely free of ice and snow in order to operate properly. Deicing your aircraft may cause a delay, but it is a necessary step that can prevent catastrophe. Snow or ice on an aircraft can alter the aircraft’s aerodynamics and make take off very difficult. Deicing can be done by using deicing fluid to remove frozen material from the tips of the wings to the top of the tail.
Staying informed of the weather is critical, especially during the winter period. Having a plan in place to clear snow quickly and safely is imperative. Things to consider include the use of a fleet of snowplows, installation of snow chains on the tires of your aircraft tugs, and use of deicing materials to clear your aircraft of ice.
You’ll never be able to control or prevent bad weather, but you are in control of how you prepare for it.
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