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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION SUBJECT: UNRELIABLE AIRSPEED INDICATIONS
PURPOSE. The purpose of this Advisory Circular is to alert pilots to the possibility of erroneous airspeed/Mach indications that may be caused by action to be blocking or freezing of the pitot system, and corrective taken.
BACKGROUND. Unreliable airspeed/Mach indications may have contributed to A frozen or blocked one recent serious incident and a fatal accident. pitot system may have caused the unreliable indications. These erroneous readings can be so subtle, that a pilot may not detect the problem until it Many pilots may associate a is too late for adequate oorrective action. frozen pitot head with symptoms of a rapidly decreasing or zero airspeed when operating high indication. This is not always the case, especially performance aircraft at high altitudes. DESCRIPTION. When blocking or freezing situations can develop as follows:
of the pitot head is blocked,
system occurs, the indicated
If the ram air input to the pitot airspeed may drop to zero; and
b 0 If the ram air input plus the drain hole is blocked, the pressure trapped in the system and the airspeed indicator may react as an altimeter; e.g.: (1) (2) (3) During level flight, when actual airspeed During climb, During descent, airspeed airspeed airspeed indication will not change even is varied by large power changes; indication indication will will increase; decrease. and
nature of this in-flight problem.
If conditions during or shortly after takeoff are conducive pitot system icing.yiy. c. p itot heat should be on prior to flight.
6.Due to the critical pilots should be aware of indications symptomatic of a frozen or blocked pitot system and take the following corrective action:
a.yi I’ . Director
Flight Standards Service
. RECOMMENDATIONS.AC 91-43
i. of pitot
when these symptoms are and associated circuit to
b 0 Check position breakers.)#. R.
Emphasis should be on attitude recognized.~ &+i/&+y. SKULLY. #..