Frontier flight attendant spots de-icing issue, prevents ‘catastrophic outcome’

Mar 3, 2021

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Well this is quite concerning. According to Twitter user JonNYC, and confirmed by Frontier Airlines, the carrier’s former contractor at Nashville International Airport reportedly cut some (very important) corners while performing a critical de-icing last month.

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De-icing is essential during cold-weather operations. Snow and ice on the fuselage and the wings can have a significant impact on lift, limiting an aircraft’s ability to become airborne. In other words, operating a flight with an aircraft in that condition can be incredibly dangerous.

Related: Behind the scenes with American Airlines de-icing operation

Airlines or their contractors typically remove ice and snow buildup from an aircraft using a special fluid, and sometimes apply a second “anti-icing” liquid as well, that’ll help the plane avoid accumulating new build-up as it taxis to the runway.

Unfortunately in the case of last month’s Nashville (BNA) incident, the contractor neglected to complete the de-icing process, reportedly because it was low on fluid. Cutting corners during the de-icing process is of course a terrible idea.

Related: How de-icing works

Fortunately for Frontier, a flight attendant spotted a snow and ice-covered wing and alerted the pilots before takeoff, leading the aircraft to return to the gate, where a foot of snow was discovered on the wings. According to a Frontier spokesperson:

We can confirm this incident did occur. Safety is our foremost priority and we are very proud of our flight crew for identifying the issue and ensuring the matter was addressed before takeoff. We are no longer using the deicing company in question.

In this case, the contractor reportedly stated that the aircraft had been completely cleared, leading the pilots to begin taxiing to the runway. The passengers, crew members and de-icing personnel certainly owe a debt of gratitude to the flight attendant who expressed concern.

Featured photo by robertcicchetti/Getty Images.

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