Surging heat may limit aircraft takeoffs globally: study
Rising temperatures due to global warming will make it harder for aircraft to travel in the world in the coming decades, according to a study.
During hotter periods of the day, 10 to 30 percent of the aircraft with full load may be needed to remove fuel, cargo or passengers, or wait for cooler hours to fly, according to the researchers.
“Our results suggest that weight restriction can be imposed at a non-trivial cost to airlines and affect airline operations around the world,” said Ethan Coffel of Columbia University in the US.
As the air heats up, it expands and its density decreases. In the finer air, the wings produce less lift when an airplane runs along a runway, the researchers said.
Therefore, depending on the model of the aircraft, track length and other factors, at some point, a packaging aircraft may not be able to take off safely if the temperature is too high. The weight should be discharged, delayed or canceled the flight otherwise, they said.
Global average temperatures have risen by almost one degree Celsius since 1980, and this may already have an effect.
Globally, the average temperature is expected to rise to three degrees Celsius by the year 2100, they said.
However, heat waves are becoming more common, the daily maximum daily temperatures at airports around the world to increase the ratio of four to eight degrees Celsius by 2080, according to the study.
These are the heat waves that can cause more problems.
“This highlights the risk of unmanaged climate change in aviation,” said Radley Horton, a climatologist at Columbia University.
“As the world becomes more integrated and aviation grows, there can be significant potential for economic and other cascading effects,” said Horton, co-author of the study published in the journal Climate Change.
Most studies so far have focused on how aviation can affect global warming (airplanes account for about 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions), not the other way around.
However, a handful of studies have warned that global warming could increase dangerous turbulence along major air routes, and winds that could extend travel time.
The new study provides the effects on a wide range of aircraft at the busiest airports in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, China and South Asia.
Researchers estimate that if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, fuel capacity and payload weight will be reduced by four percent on warmer days for a particular aircraft.
If the world manages to drastically reduce carbon emissions shortly, these reductions could reach 0.5 percent. 100, they said.
For an average operating aircraft today, a four percent weight reduction would be about 12 or 13 passengers less on an average 160-seat machine.
This does not account for the significant logistical and economic effects of delays and cancellations that can instantly convert one center to another, Horton said.
Some aircraft with lower temperature tolerances are much worse than others, and some airports – those with shorter runs, in warmer areas of the world or at heights, where the air is already thinner – suffer more.