Climate change is making it harder for airplanes to take off

From Engadget - July 13, 2017

The study, conducted by researches from Columbia University, NASA and the Logistics Management Institute, constructed models based on the five most popular aircraft and nineteen major airports around the world. The study says, "We find that on average, 1030% of annual flights departing at the time of daily maximum temperature may require some weight restriction below their maximum takeoff weights, with mean restrictions ranging from 0.5 to 4% of total aircraft payload and fuel capacity by mid- to late century."

The problem is in the density of the air: When air warms, it becomes less dense and more expansive than colder air. This means that in order to take off in warmer temperatures, an airplane needs to be at a higher speed than if, all else equal, it were taking off in cooler temperatures. As air temperatures rise, flights will need to have longer runways or weigh less in order to take off.


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