Cirrus Anti-Ice

January 21, 2009 by Bruce Landsberg

When Cirrus added the FIKI ( Flight Into Known Ice) option to their SR22 series they joined an exclusive group of single engine piston engine aircraft. Only Cessna Pressurized/ Turbo 210s, some of big-engined late model Mooneys and the Piper Malibu/Mirage came from the factory with FAA’s blessing to deliberately fly in ice. The normally aspirated 210 was not approved because without the turbo, Cessna felt that limited the options for escape. It put too much burden on the de-icing system. Typically, the icing bands are about 3,000- 4,000 feet thick but that can be, and is, the kiss of disaster for non-approved aircraft.

Piper and Cessna opted for deice boots with electrically heated windshield and prop. Cirrus (and Mooney) went with fluid – based anti-ice TKS for pretty much everything and offered it on the non-turboed SR22 as well.

In my view, unless you have a highly flexible schedule or live in the lower latitudes, FIKI approval is essential for a traveling machine if you want any schedule reliability in winter. Cirrus, as an interim step, put an “escape system” on the SR22 several years ago which was designed for just that – to extricate someone who got into the stuff inadvertently. Many viewed that as a license to cheat and most of the time it’s worked usually because conditions were far less severe than what is required for FIKI approval. I know of at least one case where it didn’t and have no statistics on close calls or successful trips. Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Ice Crisis

Here’s what Cirrus needed to add to upgrade the “escape” system to gain FIKI approval:

  • greatly increase the fluid capacity
  • add coverage to the vertical stabilizer
  • add a deice light
  • heat the stall warning vane
  • expand coverage to the elevator horns
  • provide an extra fluid pump
  • add coverage for the windshield
  • use panels with expanded flow rate

I’ve probably left something out but as you can see, it wasn’t a quick or inexpensive fix nor is this retrofittable to “escape only” systems. As a result the FIKI SR22 is a much more versatile aircraft. But as with all our systems I am reminded of the great quote by St. Exupery, “The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.” Use FIKI intelligently.

Bruce Landsberg
Senior Safety Advisor, Air Safety Institute

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15 Responses to “Cirrus Anti-Ice”

  1. Kristin Winter Says:

    FIKI is not the holy grail of flight into icing conditions. A knowledgeable pilot is.

    While FIKI certification provides a baseline of performance, focusing merely upon FIKI certification is misleading, and potentially disasterous. The single-minded focus on FIKI ignores deice equipped aircraft which were produced prior to FIKI being instituted. Some models of the Aztec and the Navajo come to mind, both of which I have experience flying in the Great Lakes region in all seasons (night cargo). On the other hand, there are FIKI aircraft which are still prone to tail stalls in not flown properly in the ice. Further, the Roselawn crash shows that even a transport-category FIIKI approved aircraft is no match for a pilot who has his head up and locked.

    I have put ice on everything from a Tomahawk to a King Air. Some were FIKI, some were not. I never put too much ice on an aircraft, an rarely more than a trace. One accomplishs that by minimizing exposure. That is where the knowledgeable pilot comes in.

    Kristin

  2. Tom Paur Says:

    Often, not enough emphasis is placed on the importance of turbo charging, duly noted in Bruce’s blog above, especially for those who fly in the mountainous areas where MEAs are often above 12,000 feet. Considerable experience flying 182s IFR in the west proved to me that at 10-12K, a loaded airplane with a normally aspirated engine will be hung out to dry with even a small amount of rime – no place to go but down.

  3. Ted Kitchen Says:

    In response to bird strikes, I was in Florida for some transition training this past December. The airport we were working out of was moderatly busy with GA traffic. There were also quite a few turkey buzzards in the area. I spent 6 years in the USMC and saw many bird strikes on our aircraft so I am well aware of the damage that they can do. My instructor took the time to explain how the buzzards react and the best ways to avoid them (fly over, or to the side of them) when they feel threatend, they tend to dive. That is a lesson that will stick in my head. That is one of those lessons regular flight training doesn’t usualy cover.

    Ted Kitchen

  4. Dan Says:

    Although the PIC is always ultimately blamed, the controller is much at fault in the Roselawn accident because he instructed the plane to hold for an extended period right at the freezing level. Check it out. No plane belongs there or can survive there.

  5. Jay Cole Says:

    FIKI certification is a nice way of telling the pilot of a piston powered aircraft or an underpowered turbine aircraft that he is authorized to kill himself if he has the nerve to do so. There are only two ways to deal with ice. One is to park the airplane and the other is to have overwhelming power, altitude and climb capabilities. Anti-ice and de-ice systems are only supplemental to overwhelming power capabilities. Piston engine aircraft simply do not have the latter of these options even if they are certified for known ice. Unfortunately, the caliber of pilots who often fly piston aircraft do not have the experience necessary to grasp this concept. In fact, many turbine pilots do not have a grasp of this concept either as Roselawn proved.

  6. Glenn Henderson Says:

    Outstanding article & blogs. I plan to pass this article on to a number of people, including a FII applicant I’ll be testing in the morning.

  7. Rick Says:

    >> the controller is much at fault in the Roselawn accident

    Huh?!? The controller has neither the ability to determine the icing level nor the ability to look out the window and see ice accrete on a wing.

  8. Stephen Wilson Says:

    “The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.”

    Shame on you Cirrus for this kind of advertising:
    http://stevewilsonblog.com/2009/04/18/were-protected–now-lets-go-find-some-ice.aspx

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