Can a plane fly when it’s too hot? How Phoenix is coping with the extreme heat
The interior of Delta Air Lines Flight 555 from Las Vegas to Atlanta was so hot that passengers were sick before the intended takeoff on July 17. In a series of tweets, Fox News field producer Krista Garvin recalled that while it was 111 degrees outside the passengers were stranded on the plane for three hours. At least three victims of heat exhaustion were brought out by paramedics.
Phoenix is one of many American cities dealing with the intense heat this summer. The amount of weight an airplane can safely carry may be reduced as a result of the heat. Even for a plane to take off, it might be too hot.
Travelers should be aware of the potential risks when flying.
Airlines have reported few to no cancellations at Sky Harbour in recent days, despite Phoenix’s record-breaking stretch of days with temperatures of 110 degrees or above this summer.
Although Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport most recently halted flights due to heat in 2013 and 2017, the National Weather Service is anticipating 119-degree temperatures in metro Phoenix.
How hot is it before an aircraft can’t fly?
The Federal Aviation Administration states that it depends on the aircraft, the altitude, and the combined weight of the passengers and cargo.
According to airport spokesman Eric Everts, “the majority of airlines that fly into Phoenix Sky Harbour have updated their airliner performance charts in recent years, with new data that goes up to and above the 122-degree range.”
A Boeing or Airbus aircraft will most likely be used by passengers flying with a major carrier at Sky Harbour or Allegiant Air at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
Although these massive jets can withstand high temperatures, aircraft makers are careful to state that there is no certain temperature at which a type of aircraft can or cannot take off. According to Kristi Tucker, an Airbus spokeswoman, it depends on a number of variables like runway conditions, air conditioning status, wind direction and speed, barometric pressure, and runway conditions.
There may be a maximum outdoor temperature for which an airline’s performance data ranges can be determined, she explained. “Airlines generate proprietary performance charts for the airports at which they operate.”
When was the last time Phoenix’s heat forced planes to land?
Because of the 119-degree heat in June 2017, American Airlines had to cancel at least 50 regional flights. The regional flights, operated by American Eagle, employed Bombardier CRJ aircraft, which were incapable of taking off in air temperatures higher than 118 degrees.
There have been three occasions in Sky Harbor’s history when flights have been grounded due to excessive heat, with the 2017 cancellations being the most recent. Both in 2013 when temperatures reached 119 degrees and in 1990 when Phoenix recorded its highest temperature ever, it first occurred.
These almost-record temperatures are now back. Phoenix had a high temperature of 119 degrees on Wednesday, and according to the weather service, the city will experience a similar temperature on Thursday and Friday.
Why are aircraft damaged by intense heat?
According to the FAA, the air in excessive heat is less dense and produces less lift, making it more difficult for airplanes to take off. When taking off in hot weather, airlines occasionally need to restrict the number of people or cargo on board.
According to Tucker, the most crucial aspect affecting an airplane’s performance in extremely high weather is its weight upon takeoff.
According to the FAA, the airline and the flight crew will ultimately decide whether it is safe to fly based on the maximum temperatures and weather. The government organization does not halt planes.
How have flights at one of the nation’s hottest airports been impacted by the heat?
There haven’t been many canceled flights at Sky Harbour recently, according to data from the flight tracking website FlightAware, with only 18 cancellations between Monday, July 17, and Thursday, July 20. The data from FlightAware does not provide the reason a flight was canceled.
According to Everts, in addition to airlines using aircraft that can operate at high maximum temperatures, Sky Harbor’s runways can handle takeoffs and landings in hot weather. The runways are constructed of reinforced concrete that is 16 inches thick, which is more resistant to heat and the stress of large aircraft than asphalt.
“Nothing prevents the concrete from being ‘too hot.’ The only reason steel-reinforced concrete is able to resist severe temperatures, according to Everts, is because of its design.
How are the airline employees coping with the heat?
Some employees of airlines, such as ground staff and baggage handlers, work outside.
In really hot weather, that may be risky.
A Phoenix airport employee’s account was included in a New York Times article on how working in high heat affects workers. A line in the post that mentioned one of the airport’s contractors, Prospect Airport Services, not allowing employees to bring water with them caught the attention of some social media commenters.
In response to the worries, Sky Harbour posted on Twitter: “We work closely with our airport vendors and stakeholders to ensure their employees have access to water and receive proper information about staying hydrated.”
According to a Southwest Airlines representative, the company’s staff are “trained and experienced in operating during heat conditions” and keep everyone safe by routinely hydrating, donning protective gear, and watching out for one another.
- Utmel: Your Trusted One-Stop Electronic Components Procurement Platform
- Discovering Druni: Spain’s Beauty and Cosmetics Retail Success
- LW Theatres: A Storied Legacy in UK Entertainment
- Seraphine: Elevating Maternity Fashion with Style & Comfort
- Transforming Writing with QuillBot: A Language Processing Powerhouse