Pilot Ingenuity Clears Windshield In Rare Sea Salt Incident
The crew of an Aer Arann ATR 72 flying for EI has earned plaudits for “good
airmanship” in finding a way to remove salt deposits that had completely
blocked the view forward from the twin turboprop’s windscreen while attempting
to land at ORK.
Pilots on the flight, which had 4 crew
members and 42 pax aboard, aborted a 1st landing attempt due to a
large change in winds.
Following the missed approach, air traffic
control sent the aircraft over land and sea back to the airport at 3,000 ft.
altitude, during which time the captain noticed “a considerable build-up of
white contamination forming on the windscreen” but did not immediately know its
During the 2nd approach, the
captain said the residue made the windscreen opaque, “diffusing the [runway]
lights into a complete blur,” and forcing a 2nd go-around.
The windscreen wipers had no effect in
clearing the residue as the atmosphere was dry, the captain stated, adding that
the windscreen heaters, turned on to prevent any ice build-up, may have
exacerbated the problem by drying the salt residue.
What to do? The captain made an inspired
decision to fly toward a nearby area of rain displayed on the weather radar in
an attempt to clear the salt. Upon flying through the shower, a small area at
the base of the captain’s windscreen was cleared of salt residue.
During the 3rd approach,
controllers turned the runway lights to full brightness as the aircraft
declared an emergency due to the limited windscreen visibility. Happily,
another area of rain on the final approach further cleared the windscreen and
the aircraft landed safety.