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How Hot Is Too Hot For Airline Operations?

If you are living in parts of Southern California, Nevada, or Arizona, you know its typiccally going to be hot this time of year. High temperatures in the 100s (F) are common. Last week though, high temperatures soared even higher than usual for this time of year. Palm Springs reached a new all time record high of 124 degrees Fahrenheit or 51.1 degrees Celsius. Las Vegas topped out at 120 degrees Fahrenheit this past weekend, breaking a record high for a city used to hot summers. When is it too… ( More...

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Dan Nelson 10
Learned to fly on the front range of Colorado, DA is a real deal. Flying in the Rockies is even more exciting!

jeffg33 9
Better be airborne by 10am in the Rockies! Fun flying, but climbing out at 300 fpm isn't much fun!
linbb 3
There was a saying about this not sure exactly what but something like on the ground by noon? or in the news at six. Only had trouble once taking two light people up around noon out of Boise ID just broke ground and tower announced temp is now 100. I became the slow low climber over town for about 10min. Bad deal.
I was part of a team that developed avionics for light aircraft, we flew out of Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (north Denver area), the weight of two engineers, pilot and our electronics development setup occasionally resulted in an aborted take-off in our C210 turbo. These take-off rolls got real interesting as we approached the end of our 9000 ft runway on a 96°f day at 5600 ft. (the good old days...)
Dan Nelson 2
Took all of my flight tests at Jeffco- now Rocky Mtn, all on hot summer days that added to the challenge of those flight tests! Loved the view of the Boulder Flatirons and Longs Peak however.
Density Altitude doesn’t care! It affects all aircraft one way or another. No matter whether recip, turbo or turbine. And it’s not just the engines either, but the generation of lift. Both are equally important and necessary…..
Tom Bruce 3
density altitude so Lake Tahoe would reach 9000-9500. some of the older planes couldn't get out of the basin ..had to come back..take off at night
Yup, for the reason mentioned above!
Ed Wojton 4
In my experience non-rev passengers were deferred before revenue cargo.
As it should be…..
Dan Nelson 10
Took a flight out of Durango in a old 737 once, and believe me we used all of the runway! I much preferred a 757 oh yeah, they don't make those any more!
Especially the ones with RR RB211s. Stacks of power. Nice aircraft to fly and to fly in.
matt jensen 2
When the tires blow out on the hard stand, then you will appreciate 4C this morning on a hard pack runway in an OLD 737-200

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Ed Dickinson 18
Temperature affects the pressure in nitrogen-filled tires, just like it does in air-filled tires. Gases, like nitrogen, expand when heated and contract when cooled. For every 10° Fahrenheit change in temperature, nitrogen-filled tires can lose or gain about one pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure.
Tim Dyck 1
Altitude also affects pressure. Lots of factors involved that most people never think about.
Tom Bruce 3
worked in tower South Lake Tahoe... Sunday afternoons.. "Cessna 123 wind 180 at 20 peak gust 30, density altitude 9000..caution turbulence and downdrafts over the last one third of the runway...cleared for takeoff... there was a crash every 2 weeks that summer
marbis59 3
I use to work in the middle East in the 90's, the ATIS was stuck at 49 dec C, even if the temp was way higher
flytdeck 2
AT 50C, any outside work has to be stopped. Weather announcers never gave a temperature higher than 49C though I never remember the Atis being incorrect.
It’s life threatening. Recently a construction worker was killed through heatstroke by working on a site in full sun during a heatwave. It’s not a joke, for sure……
Arlene Finn 2
On my June 21 Delta flight LAS-JFK @11:15 am they asked for volunteers at the gate to lighten the load due to extreme heat. I took the $700 offer for a 3pm flight which was upped to $2000. I got Visa gift cards from the link they sent me.
On the next flight they offered $3000. Passengers jumped up but flight might be late at night or next day so I didn’t take it.
flytdeck 2
Tires are the problem. Operating out of the Middle East in the summer, the heat requires a higher speed prior to rotating to take-off attitude. There is a maximum tire speed to prevent the tire from failing under hot runways and heavy loads. Once the required aircraft rotation speed meets or exceed the maximum tire speed, the operation comes to a halt unless the weight is reduced (thus a lower speed for aircraft rotation).
"the airline will seek volunteers to lessen the load" - Ithink an announcement at the gate asking for volunteers to lesson the load so that the plane could be made light enough to fly just might get an enthustiatic response!
Mike Taylor 2
Got my mountain flight training flying from the Sacramento area to Reno in the summer in a C-172. Performance was, uh, limited on departure from RNO while heading directly at the looming Sierra Nevada mountains that evening. Getting up to 10,000' from 4,400' took a while.
nspowell 1
Recent trip from KDEN to KCOS on CRJ-200 was delayed because too much fuel was on board on a hot day. Pilot mentioned we could take off but load would be too heavy to land. Taxied to holding area near RWY08 and revved up engines for 15 min to burn off fuel. Naturally we were baking in the A/C.
Question for those smarter than me: I understand the role of weight/balance and DA performance on take off. Pilot's comments were the first I've heard of about heat and fuel load for landing. Is that common? Also, if he could take off why not take a longer route to burn fuel and have a more comfortable cabin temperature. Seems like fuel burn would be higher, passengers more cooler, and shorter delay.
Bad call.
As it was an RJ, likely not too experienced pilot…….
FAA issued a ground stop at PHX in 1990 when the air temperature reached a record 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Officials were concerned about tires on planes bursting due to the extreme heat.
Which is why Korean (KAL) had to reschedule their B777-300ER departure out of KLAS from 2230 to 0130 several years ago! Guess they were tired of requesting opposite direction takeoff to the runway configuration given and experiencing minimum 1 hour delays for several months…….
My airline had a max temperature limit of 122 deg F.
Common sense. Performance tables to be checked for airport elevation, temperature. Cargo makes more money than people. Non revenue first to go. Pilots not conservative on taxi technique to runway. Could exceed 300 degrees on AB-330. Takeoff now delayed. Remember Cusco in the summer. B-727 squealing brakes. That airline didn’t consult is our priority. Not money or leaving on time.

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m f 5
Velocity (V) plays the biggest role but density (r) is important in the lift equation.

L = .5 * Cl * A * r * V^2
David Stark -2
Your hypothesis only works if temperature affects the measurement of airspeed.
John Caye 1
Airspeed measurement is adjusted and calibrated for air density.


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