From: Springer
Published July 13, 2017 02:09 PM

Climate change could mean more weight restrictions and higher costs for airlines

As air temperatures rise at constant pressure, the density of air declines and this makes it harder for an airplane to take off. Increased air temperatures due to climate change could therefore present a new challenge for the aviation industry. This is according to Ethan Coffel of Columbia University in the US, lead author of a study in Climatic Change Letters which is a section in Springer’s journal Climatic Change

Together with his co-authors he investigated how rising temperatures will mean increased weight restrictions on a significant number of flights, potentially imposing increased costs on the aviation industry in the next century.

According to climate change projections, the annual maximum temperatures at airports worldwide could increase by four to eight degrees Celsius by 2080. Air temperature has an important effect on aircraft takeoff performance. For a given runway or aircraft there is a temperature threshold above which an aircraft cannot take off at its maximum weight, requiring a weight restriction – removing passengers, cargo or fuel.

Coffel and his colleagues developed a model to project future weight-restrictions across a fleet of aircraft with different takeoff weights operating at a variety of airports. They constructed performance models for five commercial aircraft (the Boeing 737-800, Airbus A320, Boeing 787-8, Boeing 777-300, and Airbus A380) at 19 major airports in different temperature zones and elevations worldwide. They included projections of daily temperatures from a climate model suite known as CMIP5 under two carbon emissions scenarios to calculate possible weight restrictions that might be required at these airports during a day. 

Read more at Springer

Photo credit: Glenn Beltz from Goleta, USA via Wikimedia Commons

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