To the Letter

To the Letter Icon

Dedication to duty

Dear Editor,

This letter is to recognize an outstanding dedication to duty that I was able to observe first hand. My wife and I were passengers on a West Jet charter in January 2005, preparing for a 7:00 a.m. departure from the Victoria International Airport. I occupied seat 12A-an exit seat on the port side of the 737-700. A weather front passed the city of Victoria and area, including the airport, spreading treacherous freezing rain during the previous evening. I would estimate at least one or more inches of clear ice resulted from this frontal passage. From my seat adjacent to and overlooking the port wing, I was able to observe the de-icing procedure of the port wing area. A generous amount of de-icing fluid was spread onto the wing from a "cherry picker" by a ground maintenance person, who then moved away from the aircraft around the tip of the port wing towards the tail section of the aircraft.

A second ground maintenance person drove a vehicle up to the port wing, climbed on top of the vehicle and proceeded to inspect the upper wing surface with his flashlight. It appeared that the inspecting person was not satisfied with the results of the ice removal and the "cherry picker" was recalled to spray the wing again. This time all the ice was removed from the wing.

The flight crew was well organized and carrying out normal aircraft departure duties. A comment made by myself to a flight attendant concerning the ice on the wing was acknowledged, and I was told that the aircraft would be de-iced prior to departure.

I base my observations on 34 years flying as a pilot, with over 16000 hr flying time; much of it on the Boeing 737. We are all cognizant of the fact that every year there are numerous aircraft accidents resulting from poor de-icing practices. I am also aware that a second application of de-icing fluid is normally applied if the first application fails to remove the ice. My apprehension of flying, as a passenger, in an aircraft covered with ice was abated when I observed the professional and meticulous way the de-icing crew carried out their duties in the cool, early morning darkness, under very adverse conditions. I believe I am safe in pointing out that Victoria is not generally subjected to severe icing conditions.

The two persons I observed are to be congratulated for their dedication to duty. There are unheralded dedicated people in the field that get no recognition for just doing their job. In my humble opinion, both employees should receive official recognition for a job well done, as well as the de-icing company for employing such personnel.

J.W. Carleton
Victoria, B.C.

Thank you for your letter, Mr. Carleton. Indeed de-icing crews deserve our recognition for this crucial and demanding task. I understand your comments were also sent to the aircraft operator and the Victoria Airport Authority. I would like to extend your recognition to all de-icing crews in the country (and all other countries), as a testimonial that your work is critically important to aviation safety, and truly recognized. - Ed.

Pay attention to your instructors

Dear Editor,

The short article, "How Much Gas Is Enough?" on page 10 of ASL 3/2004, made me think of something that I was taught by one of my instructors while taking my training for my private pilot licence (PPL) way back in 1971 (Yes, that's right-1971).

I was told that, and I quote as well as my memory allows me to quote after all these years, "The only thing that you can find out by looking at the electric fuel gauges in an aircraft that is equipped with electric fuel gauges is that the aircraft is equipped with electric fuel gauges."

I'm pleased to report, 34 years of active flying later, that I've had only one single close-call (which I won't embarrass myself by going into the details of) in all that time, and nothing else even remotely close to a fuel incident other than that.

The lesson? (And with flying, there's always a lesson...) Always dip your tanks, and always pay attention to your instructors-they know what they're talking about!

Rick Silver

Victoria, B.C.

AtlanticRegional Aircraft Maintenance Conference 2006

April 21–22, 2006, in Halifax, N.S.
Check out conference information at

Date modified: