17 Jul 2017

Raising air temperatures caused by global warming could delay up to 30% of flights

United Airlines Plane in Flight

With areas of the globe reporting record breaking temperatures, the effect of this extreme weather on the aviation industry has not gone unscathed. Extreme heat caused American Airlines to ground 43 flights after temperatures were set to hit a record breaking 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius).

Research at Columbia University indicates that as the air temperate rises the air becomes thinner, making it more difficult for the aircraft to become airborne during take off. Essentially, the thin air means the wings cannot generate as much lift. The shift in air temperature may cause airlines to delay flights to the cooler parts of the day and call for the reduction of weight load by up to around 4%. There are many mitigating factors to consider, the size of the plane, the length of the runway which may all have to be adapted for the aviation industry to be able to successfully cope with the rise in air temperature.

Climate change has also been reported to affect the severity of dangerous turbulence on board due to head winds which could cause delay to flights in the future.

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