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Section 2  Safety Assurance System: Approval of Parts 121, 125, and 135 Procedures


A.    Program Tracking and Reporting Subsystem (PTRS). For Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 125, use PTRS activity codes: 1310, 3311, 5311.

Indicates new/changed information.

B.    Safety Assurance System (SAS). For 14 CFR parts 121 and 135, use SAS Data Collection Tools (DCT). This section is related to SAS Elements 6.4.2 (OP), Operations in Ground Icing, and 6.4.1 (AW), Operations in Ground Icing.

3-2195    GENERAL. This section contains policy, direction, and guidance to inspectors for review, evaluation, and approval of deicing/anti-icing procedures. The requirements for operations in ground-icing conditions are covered in 14 CFR part 121, §§ 121.629 and 125.221, and part 135, § 135.227.

A.    Part 121 Regulatory Requirement. Section 121.629 requires that an operator conducting operations when conditions are such that frost, ice, or snow may reasonably be expected to adhere to the aircraft must satisfy the following criteria:

·    Have and use an approved aircraft ground-deicing/anti-icing program in accordance with § 121.629(c); or

·    Be issued operations specification (OpSpec) A023 in accordance with § 121.629(d), which requires the operator to perform an Outside-the-Aircraft Check (OTAC) within 5 minutes prior to beginning takeoff to ensure that the wings, control surfaces, and other critical surfaces are free of frost, ice, and snow. See Volume 3, Chapter 18, Section 3 for more information about OpSpecs.

NOTE:  Operators who elect to operate in accordance with § 121.629(d) must have the procedures for their OTAC in their appropriate manuals and be approved by the principal operations inspector (POI) prior to conducting operations when frost, ice, or snow may reasonably be expected to adhere to the aircraft.

NOTE:  To be eligible for approval, the OTAC procedure for all aircraft must include a provision for close visual scrutiny of selected portions of all of the critical surfaces of the particular type aircraft to be checked. In addition, for hard-wing airplanes with aft, fuselage mounted, turbine‑powered engines, the OTAC procedure must also include a tactile check of selected portions of the wing-leading edges and the upper wing surfaces.

B.    Part 125 Regulatory Requirement. Part 125 operators are required to comply with the operating limitations of part 125, § 125.221, and the testing requirements of § 125.287. Principal inspectors (PI) will issue OpSpec A041 to authorize a pretakeoff contamination check (not necessarily outside the aircraft). A part 125 certificate holder may choose to comply with § 121.629(c) by having an approved ground-deicing/anti-icing program, in which case the PI will issue OpSpec A023, and operators must have appropriate procedures in their general manuals (GM) showing how they are complying with 14 CFR. If a part 125 operator chooses to operate without a pretakeoff contamination check, or without a § 121.629(c) program, then PIs may only authorize them to operate when ground-icing conditions do not exist by issuing OpSpec A042. See Volume 3, Chapter 18, Section 3 for more information about OpSpecs.

C.    Part 135 Regulatory Requirement.

1)    Section 135.227 restricts operations when an aircraft has frost, ice, or snow adhering to any rotor blade, propeller, windshield, wing, stabilizing or control surface, powerplant installation, or instrument system. In order to comply with § 135.227, operators must meet the applicable training requirements of §§ 135.341, 135.345, and 135.351, and comply with the following:

·    Be issued OpSpec A023 (for outside the aircraft pretakeoff contamination check) in accordance with § 135.227(f), which requires the operator to perform a pretakeoff contamination check within 5 minutes prior to beginning takeoff to ensure that the wings, control surfaces, and other critical surfaces are free of frost, ice, and snow; or

·    Have a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved alternative procedure to determine that the airplane is free of frost, ice, or snow; or

·    Have an FAA-approved aircraft ground-deicing/anti-icing program in accordance with § 121.629(c) (OpSpec A023).

2)    A part 135 certificate holder may choose to comply with § 121.629(c) by having an approved ground-deicing/anti-icing program, in which case the PI will issue OpSpec A023, and operators must have appropriate procedures in their GMs showing how they are complying with 14 CFR. If a part 135 operator chooses to operate without a pretakeoff contamination check or without a § 121.629(c) program, then PIs may only authorize them to operate when ground icing conditions do not exist by issuing OpSpec A042. See Volume 3, Chapter 18, Section 3 for more information about OpSpecs.


A.    Part 121 Operators. The approval of the part 121 operator's ground-deicing/anti-icing program follows the five step general process for approval and acceptance outlined in Volume 3, Chapter 1, Section 1.

B.    Part 125 Operators. The use of the following process for part 125 operators would be helpful, but is not required unless the operator elects to develop a deicing/anti-icing program in accordance with § 121.629(c). However, OpSpec A023 should be issued to clarify the approved deicing/anti-icing program for each part 125 operator.

C.    Part 135 Operators. Part 135 deicing/anti-icing requirements are fulfilled in the completion of an approved deicing/anti-icing training program and by the issuance of OpSpec A023. Standard procedures for approval of part 135 operator training programs and the issuance of OpSpecs apply. OpSpec A041 must describe or reference pretakeoff contamination check procedures for each specific airplane type. These procedures must also be contained in the operator’s GM.

D.    OpSpecs Paragraph A023. When an operator has met the requirements for operations in ground‑icing conditions under parts 121, 125, or 135, as appropriate, the POI should issue OpSpec A023.

E.    Five Step Approval Process. Should an operator elect to develop a deicing/anti-icing program in accordance with § 121.629(c), the following standard approval process would apply. For purposes of clarity and description, the five stage process is described in this section as five separate and distinct stages. In practice, the stages may overlap, and PIs are authorized to vary the process to fit the circumstances.

F.    Evaluation of Operator’s Program. The approval process requires the evaluation of the operator’s program by a team of inspectors, which is composed of the POI, the principal maintenance inspector (PMI), and inspectors of both operations and airworthiness specialties working under their leadership. The principal avionics inspector (PAI) will become preeminent in the approval process with the advent of icing sensors, which are currently under development, and which will offer an alternative means of determining that the aircraft is free of frost, ice, and snow.

G.    Issuance of OpSpecs. At the successful conclusion of the process, the operator is issued OpSpecs that authorize the operator to conduct operations under the program when conditions exist such that frost, ice, or snow may reasonably be expected to adhere to the operator’s aircraft. If a certificate holder elects to operate according to § 121.629(d), the certificate holder must be issued an OpSpec requiring an OTAC.

NOTE:  An operator who is required to conduct an OTAC may deice/anti-ice the aircraft, but may not omit the checking procedures by virtue of having done so.

3-2197    PHASE ONE-INITIAL DISCUSSION. Phase one begins when the operator initially approaches the FAA to obtain approval of a ground-deicing/anti-icing program.

A.    Become Familiar with Technical Problems and Regulatory Requirements. At this stage, both the FAA team and the operator must become familiar with the technical problems involved and the regulatory requirements. A discussion of these elements is contained in the current editions of Advisory Circular (AC) 120‑60, Ground-deicing and Anti-icing Program, and AC 135-16, Ground-Deicing & Anti-Icing Training and Checking. Section 1 of this chapter includes a listing of documents the operator may find useful in developing a program. PIs should ensure that the operator is aware of these sources of information.

B.    Outline Required Elements. The PIs should outline for the operator those elements that must be contained in the operator’s proposed program and the actions that will be required at each stage of the approval process. See Volume 3, Chapter 27, Section 1.

3-2198    PHASE TWO-INITIAL OPERATOR SUBMISSION. Phase two begins when the operator initially submits a proposed program package. The PIs’ first action is to review the operator’s submission to determine if each element specified in phase one is included. If the operator’s initial program is incomplete, the PIs must immediately inform the operator and determine what action the operator proposes to take to complete the package. If the operator’s package is complete or the PIs determine that it will soon be complete, the PIs should distribute the elements to the appropriate inspectors for a prompt initial examination. PIs should return obviously unacceptable packages to the operator with a letter outlining the deficiencies.

A.    Initial Examination. The initial examination does not include a detailed operational or technical evaluation (this analysis is conducted in phase three). The phase two examination is conducted in sufficient detail to assess the completeness of the operator’s package. Inspectors assigned to complete the initial review should promptly complete the initial evaluation and inform the PIs of their findings.

B.    Unacceptable Elements. At this point it is appropriate for the PIs to hold a meeting with the operator to discuss any obviously unacceptable elements of the program. Under unusual circumstances, the PIs may need to return the operator’s entire package with a written statement that explains why the submission is unacceptable.

C.    Initially Acceptable Package. When the operator’s package is initially acceptable, the PIs should inform the operator and provide an estimate of when the operator can expect to be informed of the phase three analysis results.

3-2199    PHASE THREE-PRELIMINARY APPROVAL. Phase three consists of a detailed analysis of the operator’s ground-deicing/anti-icing program, training, equipment, and facilities. Throughout phase three, inspectors and operators should expect to encounter various deficiencies. Inspectors and operators should plan to meet and work closely to agree on corrections for these deficiencies throughout phase three.

A.    Document Review. The first step in phase three is a detailed review and analysis of those manual sections the operator has prepared for the ground-deicing/anti-icing program.

NOTE:  A single pilot certificate holder/applicant is not required to have a manual, therefore, a single pilot certificate holder/applicant document review may be the review of a procedure written into the compliance statement, which will then be included into OpSpec paragraph A023 or A041, whichever is applicable.

1)    Section 121.135(a)(1) requires the manual to provide all categories of employees with sufficient instructions and information to allow them to perform their duties with a high degree of safety. Section 125.71(a) requires a current manual establishing the operator’s procedures, and policies that are acceptable to the Administrator. Section 135.21(a) requires the certificate holder to prepare and keep current a manual establishing the procedures and policies, which are acceptable to the Administrator that must be used by flight, ground, and maintenance personnel.
2)    The operator’s GM, including those sections concerning the ground-deicing/ anti-icing program, does not require FAA approval. However, the appropriate PI must review and find acceptable the appropriate sections of the manual before the FAA grants initial approval to the operator to conduct a ground‑deicing/anti‑icing program. The operator is granted approval by means of OpSpecs. After the operator receives initial approval of the program or procedures, the applicable PIs may require the operator to further revise manual contents.
3)    See Volume 3, Chapter 32 for general guidance on review and acceptance of operator manuals, procedures, and checklists. Inspectors should ensure that the content of the operator’s manual meets the following criteria:

·    Identifies clearly each category of employee with responsibility for program elements;

·    Defines the duties of each category of employee involved; and

·    Provides adequate background information, step-by-step procedures and, when appropriate, checklists that allow each category of employee to perform to the required standard.

NOTE:  The experience gathered during deicing/anti-icing surveillance has shown that when holdover times have been exceeded, the most critical area of an operator’s ground‑deicing/anti‑icing program is an adequate pretakeoff contamination check (OpSpec A023). It is essential for the POI to ensure that the operator’s procedures offer the means for personnel to adequately determine that the aircraft is free of contamination before a takeoff during conditions when frost, ice, or snow may reasonably be expected to adhere to the aircraft. This becomes more critical if the POI authorizes the pretakeoff contamination check to be conducted from inside the airplane (OpSpec A041).

B.    Training Program Review. The requirements of parts 121 and 135 will vary to some extent. The inspector should make a careful review of the requirements of the applicable part of 14 CFR before conducting the training program review. Section 121.629(c)(2) covers the initial and recurrent training requirements for operators who wish to receive approval under § 121.629(c). Section 135.345(b)(6)(iv) covers the training requirements for operators seeking approval under § 135.227(f). The operator must prepare a training/testing program to qualify required ground-deicing/anti-icing employees to perform their assigned duties.

1)    The training must include both general procedures and the specific requirements of each make, model, series, and variant of aircraft.
2)    The training program must include a means of testing and qualification for each category of employee who is covered under the approved program and who checks, inspects, deices, anti ices, releases, dispatches, or operates an aircraft.
3)    The operator’s training program must include flightcrew and dispatcher training.

C.    Facilities and Equipment. The operator must acquire and deploy the equipment to accomplish ground-deicing/anti icing. Inspectors should plan to inspect some or all of the facilities at which this equipment is deployed (depending on the size of the operator) before granting initial approval. Some operators fulfill part of this requirement by demonstrating the knowledge of procedures and equipment during nonicing conditions prior to the deicing/anti-icing season. Inspectors must also evaluate coordination procedures between the airport operator and the air traffic control (ATC) facility at the airport.

D.    OpSpecs for Operators with Ground-deicing/Anti-icing Program Approval. When the POI and PMI are satisfied that the operator is able to begin ground-deicing/anti-icing operations, they should issue OpSpec A023. The OpSpecs should reference the sections of the operator’s manual that contain the operations and airworthiness portions of the operator’s program.

3-2200    PHASE FOUR-VALIDATION TESTING. Phase four consists of a validation of the operator’s procedures in actual operations. This process consists of a progressive refinement of the operator’s manuals, checklists, and procedures as experience is gained and FAA surveillance reports become available.

A.    Reason for Surveillance. Surveillance of the operators’ ground-deicing/anti-icing programs or procedures is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs as well as to provide input on the adequacy of the rule requirements. Surveillance will further identify problem areas and will facilitate corrective action. The intended result of this surveillance program is to promote a safe winter operating season.

1)    Surveillance Prerequisites. As a prerequisite to conducting surveillance, inspectors should review §§ 121.629, 125.221, and 135.227; AC 120-60; AC 120-58, Pilot Guide Large Aircraft Ground Deicing; AC 20-117, Hazards Following Ground Deicing and Ground Operations in Conditions Conducive to Aircraft Icing; and must complete the appropriate computer-based instruction (CBI) course:

·    Course 27019 – Ground-Deicing/Anti-icing for Airworthiness Inspectors.

·    Course 27020 – Ground-deicing/Anti-icing for Operations Inspectors.

2)    Geographic Responsibility. Geographic inspectors should be familiar with the airport deicing/anti-icing plans and the ground-deicing/anti-icing programs and procedures of certificate holders that operate out of airports located in their geographic area. Local surveillance requirements should be coordinated with the certificate-holding district office (CHDO).
3)    Conduct of Inspections. The only time that it may be possible to determine that the operator’s ground-deicing/anti-icing procedures are safe and effective is during actual icing conditions. Therefore, inspection of operator ground-deicing/anti-icing procedures should be conducted during the times that winter operations and certificate holders’ ground-deicing/anti-icing procedures are in effect. Inspector surveillance is a sampling process. It is not intended to observe every deicing operation that occurs during the time that ground‑deicing/anti‑icing operations are ongoing. Through effective sampling, the CHDO should be able to determine the operator’s ability to comply with the ground-deicing regulations and meet the requirements of their OpSpecs. The required number of ground-deicing surveillance activities necessary to determine a particular operator’s effectiveness may vary from a relatively low percentage to a very high percentage. For certain operators, 100 percent surveillance may be necessary in order to determine the operator’s capability to safely operate during ground-icing conditions.
Indicates new/changed information.
a)    Inspections can be conducted in conjunction with ramp or en route inspections, or during airport site visits. Each district office should develop and coordinate a ground-deicing/anti-icing surveillance plan as described in Volume 6, Chapter 2, Section 15. This plan should be coordinated with the regional deicing/anti‑icing coordinator.
b)    Surveillance of operators’ recurrent ground-deicing/anti-icing testing or training programs should also be conducted.
c)    The POI should coordinate an inspection of the ground-deicing/anti-icing equipment used by the operator, with the geographic units that are responsible for each airport where the equipment is located. In some cases, one operator or contractor may deice more than one air carrier. In this case, it is necessary for the POI to ensure that the operator/contractor doing the deicing has a complete knowledge of the specific operator’s approved ground-deicing/ anti-icing program. The POI can conduct this type of surveillance prior to the deicing/anti-icing season and should confirm that the company performing the deicing has knowledge and ability regarding ground-deicing/anti-icing equipment.
Indicates new/changed information.
4)    PTRS. An operations inspector should record surveillance of ground-deicing/anti-icing operations by using PTRS Activity Code 1637 for 14 CFR part 125 only with the word "ICE" in the "National Use" block.

B.    Conclusion of Phase Four. Phase four may be concluded when, in the judgment of the POI and PMI, surveillance of the operator’s program shows that the operator is successfully conducting the program under actual ground-icing conditions. There is no minimum time period for phase four, but the PIs must have an adequate number of surveillance reports to form an educated opinion of the operator’s performance. Normally, operators should be able to progress through phase four in one winter season or less.

C.    Deficiencies. If final approval cannot be granted after an entire winter season due to deficiencies in the operator’s program, the POI and PMI should consider having the operator return to phase two. PIs shall revise the OpSpecs of operators who are returned to phase two.

3-2201    PHASE FIVE-FINAL APPROVAL. When the PIs are satisfied with the operator’s performance, they should inform the operator in writing that the verification process is complete.

RESERVED. Paragraphs 3-2202 through 3-2215.