Hurricane season officially starts on June 1st and ends on Nov 30th. Whether it is just a small tropical storm passing through or a dangerously high category hurricane, you should always have a hurricane plan in place for your aircraft.
Below are 3 options to consider when creating a hurricane plan for your aircraft. Ideally, you will want to have your plan in place prior to any threatening weather entering your area. Whichever option you choose, be sure to verify that your aircraft’s insurance is up-to-date and take photos of the inside (especially your avionics panel) and outside of your aircraft.
RELOCATE YOUR AIRCRAFT. Unless your aircraft is not airworthy, the absolute best way to protect your aircraft from damaging winds is to move it to an airport far enough outside of the projected hurricane route.
- Hurricane paths can be unpredictable at best, so be sure to closely monitor weather outlets for path updates.
- Contact a relocation airport ASAP – don’t wait until the last minute. There will be many aircraft in the same situation so be sure have a spot reserved.
- Secure a way home. Make sure you have a plane ticket or rental car reserved if you’re planning on returning home.
- Contact evacuation pilots, preferably before hurricane season, in the instance you are unable to fly the aircraft out.
- If applicable, check your aircraft’s insurance relocation coverage and save all expense receipts that your insurance covers.
HANGAR YOUR AIRCRAFT. If your aircraft isn’t hangared regularly, then it may be difficult to find an available spot as a storm approaches.
- Closely exam the hangar where your aircraft will be riding out the storm. You could sustain more damage from a weak or poorly built hangar collapsing on top of your aircraft than it would have received unhangared.
TIE DOWN YOUR AIRCRAFT. Unless your aircraft is not airworthy, it is highly recommended that you avoid tying down your aircraft during a hurricane. However, If tying down your aircraft is the best option, then the below steps can help minimize, or possibly eliminate, damage sustained to your aircraft.
- Speak with your FBO first. It is likely they will have hurricane procedures and requirements in place.
- If you are able to choose your tie down spot, try to select a location that is furthest upwind from other aircraft. Keep in mind that wind direction may change as the hurricane moves through the area.
- Remove Foreign Object Debris (FOD). Even the smallest FOD can cause significant damage to an aircraft during a storm. Be sure your selected area is clear of anything that could become a flying projectile.
- Lock all doors and windows. If you have covers for your aircraft, use them as long as they can be secured tightly enough to withstand hurricane force winds. Avoid using anything that hangs and could potentially cause damage by hitting up against the aircraft.
- Set the aircraft’s parking brake if your aircraft’s POH states it’s OK and is approved by your FBO.
- Chock and deflate the tires.
- Install internal and external gust locks to keep the control surfaces from slamming back-and-forth. In the event of the tie downs failing, gust locks will also help prevent the aircraft from becoming airborne.
- Make sure your tie down ropes or chains are in excellent condition. Replace damaged rope with nylon or Dacron rope – manila rope is not recommended. When tying down your aircraft, only use the tie down rings – NEVER tie onto a strut. From about a 45 degree angle from the ground, use a bowline knot to secure the rope to the tie down rings. If using weighted anchors or cement to secure the aircraft on the ground, make sure they’re heavy enough to stay grounded during hurricane force winds. A cement block tied to your aircraft while waving in the wind will do significant damage.
Please note, most FBO’s will not be responsible for any damage to your aircraft caused by the storm. In the event of a storm, Banyan will keep a list of customers who have requested hangar space because they are unable to relocate their aircraft. Hangars will be filled in the order requested and we cannot guarantee space for everyone. Once your aircraft is stored in the hangar prior to the storm, it must stay in the hangar. Removing your aircraft from the hangar for a last minute departure is extremely dangerous for Banyan teammates, your aircraft and other customers’ aircraft.