Citing violations of wing deicing procedures in 19 flights originating Hays, the Federal Aviation Administration has proposed a $304,000 civil penalty against Cheyenne, Wyo.-based Great Lakes Aviation. The airline also operates out of Great Bend Municipal Airport, but this location was not mentioned in the FAA action.
According to a statement from the FAA, the flights “were not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.”
Great Lakes operated the aircraft “in conditions in which the carrier could reasonably expect frost, snow or ice to adhere to the planes,” the FAA alleges. The FAA maintains that Great Lakes flew Beech 1900 aircraft out of Hays in January 2011 with deicing fluid that exceeded the maximum temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Great Lakes deicing manual, which is federally approved, states that fluid heated to more than 180 degrees could damage the aircraft or the deicer. The deicing system works by pumping a diluted glycol mixture onto the wings during flight.
Ice on a wing destroys the smooth flow of air, increasing drag while decreasing the ability of the airfoil to create lift. It can also cause airplane controls to jam.
Should the deicing system fail in the air, the above conditions could arise.
Involved were 15 flights out of Hays from Jan. 2 through Jan. 28, 2011, in which the primary deicers exceeded the temperature. There were four additional flights out of Hays in which the secondary deicer temperatures were to high.
A letter from the FAA’s Allen Kenitzer, media relations manager for the agency’s Northwest Mountain and Alaska Regions said GLA “dispatched, released, and operated (took off) an aircraft when conditions were such that frost, ice, or snow were reasonably expected to adhere to the aircraft, when it did not comply with its approved deice/anti-ice program.”
Kenitzer, who is based out of out of Renton, Wash., said he couldn’t comment further on the case since it remained an open investigation.
Questions asked of area Great Lakes officials were referred to the corporate headquarters in Cheyenne. Numerous messages were left with the company media relations representative, but the calls were unreturned as of presstime.
Great Lakes Aviation has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.