Pilot Ingenuity Clears Windshield In Rare Sea Salt Incident

Open Jaw

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 origin.

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.





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