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.