Observant flight attendant stops Frontier plane from departing Nashville with icy wing

Brad Schmitt, Nashville Tennessean
·2 min read

A Frontier passenger airplane nearly took off in Nashville with an ice-covered wing during last month's snow/ice storm, the airline confirmed to the Tennessean.

The plane had gone through de-icing from Trego-Dugan Aviation, but a flight attendant afterward noticed what appeared to be ice and snow mixed with de-icing fluid on one of the plane's wings, according to a tweet from an aviation watchdog Tuesday that exposed the near tragedy.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, an agency spokeswoman confirmed Thursday morning in an email to the Tennessean.

Experts say ice on a plane can stop the plane's lift and can create other barriers to safe flying.

In an email to the Tennessean, Frontier confirmed "this incident did occur."

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But Frontier would not say what date or time it happened or where the plane was going.

"Safety is our foremost priority and we are very proud of our flight crew for identifying the issue and ensuring the matter was addressed before takeoff," the statement said.

"We are no longer using the deicing company in question."

The de-icing company, the nationwide outfit Trego/Dugan Aviation, said in a statement to the Tennessean that "there was a breakdown in the detailed and vigorous de-icing process in Nashville."

Cars drive on Two Rivers Parkway in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Snow continued to fall on the Nashville area on Thursday further contributing to challenging driving conditions.
Cars drive on Two Rivers Parkway in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Snow continued to fall on the Nashville area on Thursday further contributing to challenging driving conditions.

"An aircraft that had remained overnight during the storm was not fully de-iced," the statement said. "TDA applauds the efforts of the Frontier flight crew for detecting the issue before initiating flight."

Frontier would not identify that flight attendant nor make him or her available for an interview.

A Nashville Airport Authority spokeswoman would not say how many airlines use Trego/Dugan Aviation for de-icing. The spokeswoman, Kym Gerlock, referred all questions about the incident to Frontier airlines, adding the authority only "provides the infrastructure for flying at Nashville International Airport."

Trego/Dugan said there were "rigorous re-training" sessions with all operators who de-ice planes at all of its stations.

"Nothing of this sort has happened in the past 50+ years and we have vigorously attacked the underlying circumstances to prevent anything like this in the future," the company said in its statement.

Reach Brad Schmitt at brad@tennessean.com or 615-259-8384 or on Twitter @bradschmitt.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Frontier flight attendant stopped plane from taking off with icy wing