Hat tip to Sulako of Sulako’s Blog for posting this rather scary video of a Russian passenger aircraft taking off with a wing covered in snow:
Apparently the title of the video (“вылет из Шереметьево без обработки самолёта”) translates to “Departure from the Sheremetyevo Airport without processing the aircraft” (Sheremetyevo International Airport serves Moscow) but Sulako merely captioned the post with the phrase “See if you can spot the poor decision making” with one joker commenting: “Shooting a video while the fasten seat belts sign is on? 🙂 ”
Dark humor aside but if I was a passenger aboard this aircraft, I don’t think I would have been calmly sitting in my seat during take off. Then again, the video was taken in Russia and perhaps this is standard practice over there during winter time.
On the YouTube page for the video, dogboy182 posted the following comment regarding whether this was dangerous or not:
Not necessarily. Ice will make the plane heavier and interfere with aerodynamics. Now, this might not be standard procedure in the West, but from the looks of it, the snow was dry and came right off. Obviously they could tell it was not a threat to the flight. No big deal.
On the other hand, someone else commented that he or she would not want to be the insurance underwriter for this airline.
Nevertheless, apparently someone from Aeroflot posted a comment in Russian that someone else translated (using Google Translate) as “snow was blown away, so therefore it did not affect aerodynamics.”
Obviously the aerodynamics were not seriously affected in this case as if they were, we would not have seen the video as it probably would have been destroyed in the fireball the aircraft would have created near the end of the runway shortly after takeoff. However, what do you our readers think? Was this safe decision making or are you not planning any winter trips on Russian airlines any time soon?
Pete Zaitcev says
You forgot to mention that all of this acquired new urgency after the crash of ATR 72 a couple of weeks ago. Some of the fine professionals suggested that one problem with it was that being a high wing, it cannot be determined directly if we're dealing with snow or frost. Note that back in the 80s, when Tu-154 carried millions, they departed with adhering frost routinely. There were no deciding machines at the airports at all. However, large accumulations were removed by scrapping. It helped that the aircraft had effective slats.