# Tags
#Aviation News

Deicing Delays: British Airways Pays the Price

British Airways

United States aviation law applies to all airlines equally, as demonstrated by the recent fine imposed on British Airways for a delay in Austin, Texas in 2017. The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has fined the airline $135,000, with half of the amount suspended depending on compliance.

The Incident

After examining the attached five-page consent order, it is evident that on December 7, 2017, British Airways flight BA190, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, was delayed due to a need for deicing and adequate deicing fluid supply. It is unusual for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) to experience the risk of icing, as in this case due to a snow event.

During the deicing process, the first deicing truck ran out of fluid, and passengers were provided with food and water while waiting for a second attempt. However, the plane did not return to a gate during this time. The second deicing attempt began more than three hours after the first, taking over an hour to complete. The total wait time to take off from the AUS gate was four hours and 27 minutes, exceeding the legally allowed limit by 27 minutes without an opportunity for passengers to deplane and stretch their legs.

British Airways responded in the consent order that the pilots, who had years of experience, believed that the deicing would be completed within four hours. Additionally, the settlement was only consented to in the interest of resolving the issue.

Image by: Turning Left for Less

Deicing: A Crucial Aspect of Flight Safety

Deicing is critical for aircraft safety, as ice buildup can negatively impact aerodynamics, making it difficult for the aircraft to maintain lift and powered flight. The tragic Air Florida Flight 90 disaster on January 13, 1982, which resulted in 74 deaths onboard and four on the ground, was caused by a Boeing 737-200 covered with ice that crashed into a bridge soon after takeoff. Therefore, deicing is crucial for safe flights.

The consent order states that deicing is the responsibility of the airline. This is in accordance with US code 14 CFR 121.629(c), which mandates that each airline must have a clear deicing plan.

Legal Requirements

US law is explicit regarding contingency plans for overlong tarmac delays by airlines, as outlined in 14 CFR 259.4. However, the USDOT also accused British Airways of violating 49 U.S.C. § 41712, which allows the department to impose sanctions on airlines for engaging in unfair or deceptive practices or unfair methods of competition. This was due to British Airways’ failure to adhere to its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays, forcing passengers to remain on board the aircraft for four hours and 27 minutes before takeoff.

Moreover, on April 25, 2011, the USDOT issued a “Tarmac Delay Rule” under US Code Section 14 CFR 259.4, which mandates that foreign carriers, such as British Airways operating in the United States, must have a contingency plan to deplane passengers if the main aircraft door(s) are closed on the ground for more than four hours.

Image by: AARP

British Airways’ Response

British Airways responded by stating that the pilots, who had years of experience, believed that the deicing would be completed within four hours. However, the settlement was consented to “in the interest of resolving this proceeding.”

British Airways’ aircrew took a calculated risk during an icing event, but it ended up costing the airline at least $67,500. The incident serves as a reminder that airlines must adhere to US aviation laws and regulations, including having clear deicing and contingency plans. It also highlights the importance of deicing in ensuring safe flight, which should always be the top priority for airlines.

Also, you might be interested in reading: Air Travel Nightmare: British Airways Cancels Flights Due to the French ATC Strikes


Discover more from Aviation for Aviators

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Deicing Delays: British Airways Pays the Price

The Story of the A220, how it

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Aviation for Aviators

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading