In India, we have witnessed flights getting cancelled due to inclement weather including dense fog and incessant rains or even dust storms. In US, where temperatures touched nearly 50 degrees Celsius on Monday, flights were cancelled as it was too hot to fly, according to Indian Express report. What is even more astonishing is that the affected carrier was American Airlines which is considered the largest among airline in terms of fleet size, revenues and destinations served. It was forced to cancel as many as 50 regional flights out of Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona due to excessive heat, according to IE report. American Airlines had clarified that the Canadian-built Bombardier CRJ aircraft used by its American Eagle regional services were not certified to fly in temperatures higher than 48 degrees Celsius, the report says.
According to an AP report, if a plane tries to take off beyond its temperature threshold, it may keep racing down the runway and not get up in time and have to abort. And if an aircraft tries to land when the air is too thin and hot, that’s not good either because it can run out of runway. The main issue that an aircraft faces while taking off is the air density, according to the report. Hotter air gets thin, making it harder to take off and land safely, mostly for smaller jets, the report says.
The situation could get worse as the US National Weather Service has warned of excessive heat across south-western USA Monday through Wednesday, and Phoenix is in the middle of what local media are calling a hellscape heatwave.
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In Delhi airport when the temperature soars, weight against the particular length for a smooth take-off is calculated before allowing a flight to take off, former chief Director General of Civil Aviation Kanu Gohain told Indian Express. Delhi airport sometimes registers high temperatures — this is when flights are cancelled or the weight is adjusted, he said. Gohain said that airlines typically use ‘WAT’ aircraft performance cards, which stands for Weight, Altitude and Temperature, to help aircraft operate smoothly, according to IE report.