Cold Temperature Operations


  • Pilots should begin planning for operating into airports with cold temperatures during the preflight planning phase

Cold Temperature Operations:

  • Instrument approach charts will contain a snowflake symbol and a temperature when cold temperature correction must be applied. Pilots operating into airports requiring cold temperature corrections should request the lowest forecast temperature at the airport for departure and arrival times. If the temperature is forecast to be at or below any published cold temperature restriction, calculate an altitude correction for the appropriate segment(s) and/or review procedures for operating automatic cold temperature compensating systems, as applicable. The pilot is responsible to calculate and apply the corrections to the affected segment(s) when the actual reported temperature is at or below any published cold temperature restriction, or pilots with automatic cold temperature compensating systems must ensure the system is on and operating on each designated segment. Advise ATC when intending to apply cold temperature correction and of the amount of correction required on initial contact (or as soon as possible) for the intermediate segment and/or the published missed approach. This information is required for ATC to provide aircraft appropriate vertical separation between known traffic

Cold Temperature Restricted Airports:

  • A snowflake with a temperature (-12°C, for example) indicates a cold temperature altitude correction is required at this airport when reported temperature is at or below the published restricted temperature
  • Pilots familiar with cold temperature procedure in the Notice to Airman Publication (NTAP) and correcting all altitudes from the IAF to the MA final holding altitude do not have to reference the NTAP
  • Pilots wishing to correct on individual segments must reference the NTAP airport list for affected segments
  • See Notice to Airman Publication (NTAP) Graphic Notices General for complete list of published airports, temperature, segments, and procedure information
  • Pilots will advise ATC with the required altitude correction when making a correction to any segment other than the final segment
  • See following Cold Temperature Error Table to make manual corrections

Cold Weather Safety:

  • For cold weather safety, The FAA Safety Team recommends following the below tips may "SPARE" you from dangerous runway incursions
  • SPEED:

    • When taxiing, keep it slow
    • Taxi slowly to avoid throwing up snow and slush into the wheel wells and onto aircraft surfaces
    • Taking it slow is also safer, providing more response time in case the tires decide to slide on an icy patch

    • Ensure you have a current airport diagram to reference prior to taxi as winter weather may obscure references
    • Plan your route ahead of time, knowing where the runway safety areas are
    • Runway safety happens on purpose because of your planning and airmanship

    • Since braking is not effective on a wet or icy runway, take advantage of aerodynamic braking by holding the nose up as long as possible
      • Aircraft control can only be maintained if the main wheels are rolling
    • Any braking should be applied gently and evenly using care not to lock up the wheels
    • When the airplane slows down, control effectiveness from the rudder and ailerons are lost
    • The airplane does what comes naturally - it weather­vanes into the wind
      • If there is ice, the amount of wind the airplane can tolerate drops dramatically
      • Land into the wind on icy surfaces, or divert to a less contaminated runway or one with less of a crosswind

    • Offset, parallel runways continue to challenge GA pilots
    • Be aware that you may be looking at a dominate runway, not the one that you were cleared for
    • Snow covered terrain may add to the difficulty
    • Understand your clearance and reference the airport diagram. If you're not 100% sure, go around

    • Remove the airplane's wheelpants if equipped
      • Slush and ice can collect inside the wheel pant and freeze the brakes to the rotors making for an interesting landing with wheels that won't spin
      • Removal of the wheelpants will also allow you a clearer view to inspect tire condition and the possibility of leaking fluid


  • For more information, reference AIM, Paragraph 7-2-3 , Altimeter Errors and AIM TBL 7-2-3, ICAO Cold Temperature Error
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