Too Hot to Fly?

July 27, 2017

If you’re a pilot, you need to consider a lot things before taking off. Are all parts of the plane working properly? Is the runway clear? Are weather conditions safe? Now add another question to the mix: is it too hot? That’s right—as temperatures across the globe increase (remember global warming?), flights are starting to get canceled. Recently, flights in Phoenix, Arizona, were canceled due to record-high temperatures.

Why? Let’s take a quick trip to science class. When it’s hot, air is thinner or less dense, so there is less air beneath the wings of airplanes to help with takeoff. With us so far? Good. In extremely hot conditions, aircrafts have to work harder. They need a longer runway and more air conditioning before takeoff, all of which can get pretty expensive. The Phoenix flights, for example? They were rescheduled to take off later in the day because it’s cooler then.

But airplanes take off in other parts of the world where the weather can be much hotter than the summers in Phoenix, right? You’re right! Departure flights from those areas tend to be scheduled for early mornings or late afternoons. Some experts point to global warming as a reason why certain areas are experiencing extreme heat. As a result, airlines must deal with a problem in these areas that they never had to before: scheduling flights around extremely hot weather!

For now, might we suggest an early morning flight or an evening flight? Hey, you might even get to watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset from the sky that way!