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Ice falls from aircraft

There are around 2.5 million flights that travel through UK airspace every year. On average, 25 ice fall incidents are reported (countrywide) to the CAA during this time so the chance of experiencing property damage due to falling ice is extremely low.

It is usually assumed that ice falling from the sky is aviation related but incidences have been reported worldwide of large lumps of ice, known as megacryometeors, falling from the sky, despite there being no clouds and no aviation activity nearby. This phenomenon is still under investigation by scientists but the origin of the ice is still unknown.

Whilst ice falls from aircraft are rare, ice can form on the outside of an aircraft when it is cruising at high altitude and as it descends into warmer air, these chunks may break away and fall to the ground. Despite popular beliefs, modern aircraft do not have the facility to eject toilet waste whilst they are airborne. Waste collection happens when the aircraft lands at an airport and is disposed of responsibly. However, there have been reported incidents where the hose valve that is used to empty the aircraft has been faulty and leaked fluid which has frozen at altitude. This rare occurrence usually results in discoloured ice and is commonly referred to as “blue ice.”

Responsibility for repairing any damage from ice falls rests with the airline. However, Heathrow realises that it may be difficult to identify the responsible aircraft so, in line with our vortex repair scheme, we will arrange for a repair to be carried out free of charge.

How do I report damage?

Heathrow operates a 24-hour telephone service for reporting vortex and ice fall damage. If you suspect your house has sustained a strike, you should report it immediately by:

  • calling our assessor on 07860 323816 or 020 8745 5590.

We will send out an assessor to inspect your roof as soon as possible. Please do not undertake any repairs before the inspection, as homes are only eligible for the scheme if the damage has been officially verified.

Once approved, Heathrow will carry out free, remedial repairs to your roof.

To help us identify the responsible airline/aircraft please provide as much information as possible. Please try and preserve the ice by wrapping it securely in bags and place into your freezer so the assessor may see it. Ensure that the ice does not come into direct contact with any food stuffs. Please also try and log the time of strike or where this is not possible, a time frame of when it may have occurred. This will enable us to carry out a full investigation.

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