Flight attendant prevents ‘potential disaster’ after spotting ice on aircraft’s wings just seconds before take-off, report reveals
- Flight attendant noticed ‘significant’ amount of snow building up on plane wings
- Captain made no mention of de-icing in their pre-flight announcements
- They alerted the cabin crew as the plane moved towards the runway – the pilots agreed with them and taxied to a holding area
- Due to heavy snow continuing to fall the runway was closed and flight cancelled
- Incident was revealed in an anonymous report to the Civil Aviation Authority
A flight attendant helped prevent a ‘potential disaster’ after spotting ice on an aircraft’s wings seconds before take-off, a new report has revealed.
The plane was about to enter the runway when the concerned attendant alerted the pilots, forcing them to abandon the departure.
Details of the incident were released by the Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme (Chirp), which was set up by the Civil Aviation Authority to encourage airline crew to anonymously raise safety concerns.
In the public report, the unnamed attendant said they noticed ‘a significant layer of snow accumulating on the wings’ as they closed the aircraft door after boarding.
A flight attendant helped prevent a ‘potential disaster’ after spotting ice on an aircraft’s wings seconds before take-off, it had emerged in a new anonymous report to the Civil Aviation Authority. The plane was not de-iced before it taxied for takeoff (stock photo of de-icing)
Then during the captain’s preflight announcement to passengers, no mention was made of de-icing the plane, despite this usually being the case, especially in snowy conditions.
‘I found (this) strange but still I didn’t say anything because I was still sure that they were going to do it,’ they added.
‘I was also thinking that, as experienced pilots, they must know what they are doing and it wasn’t my place to tell them how to do their job.’
During the safety demonstration, the attendant said they heard the flight crew lock the flight deck door and start the aircraft and it became clear the pilots ‘had no intention of de-icing the aircraft.’
During the captain’s preflight announcement to passengers, no mention was made of de-icing the plane, despite this usually being the case, especially in snowy conditions (stock photo)
By the time the safety demonstration had finished, the plan was already at the holding point ready to enter the runway.
‘Therefore, before beginning to secure the cabin, I told the SCCM (senior cabin crew member) that there was a significant layer of snow on the wings and that it would be a good idea to let the pilots know,’ they wrote.
‘They looked at the wings and agreed with me and called them.’
The pilots initially replied to ‘stand by’ before entering the runway and then turning around to taxi to a holding area.
They then made an announcement to inform passengers what was happening, and entered the cabin to inspect the wings from the windows. After confirm there was ice, the captain confirmed the plane would need to be de-iced.
The attendant added that they were called by the captain to thank them for bringing the ice to their attention and explained that they had only seen snow on the wing during pre-flight checks but no ice (stock photo of a plane being de-iced)
‘So much snow was falling that even after de-icing the right wing, the snow was building up again whilst the opposite wing was being de-iced,’ the reporter added.
Due to continuing snow fall the runway was eventually closed and the flight cancelled.
The attendant added that they were called by the captain to thank them for bringing the ice to their attention and explained that they had only seen snow on the wing during pre-flight checks but no ice.
Responding to the report, a CHIRP spokesman said: ‘If any member of cabin crew has any concerns relating to potential ice or snow on the wings or if they are unsure as to if de-icing has been completed, they must raise these as soon as possible with both the SCCM and the operating Captain.
‘It must never be assumed that someone else has already spotted a potential safety issue – it is better to report something twice than not at all.’
They continued: ‘Remember that the most important thing in such incidents is to report your concerns as soon as possible.’