The weather may be delightful in May, but when summer hits in June, things get hot and sticky, quick. With the temperature topping 48C earlier this week in Phoenix, Arizona, around 50 departing and arriving American Airline flights were cancelled due to safety reasons.
But typically, people don’t expect a beautiful, sunny day to be the reason why a flight gets cancelled, right? Well the reality is that some planes are just unable to fly in extreme heat. Scorching temperatures like this can inhibit planes from taking off or landing because hot air is less dense than cold air, meaning that planes have to travel faster on the ground to achieve enough lift to become airborne or to land properly. And since airport runways are only so long, that’s not always possible.
American Airlines released a statement explaining that some of their smaller planes — like the Bombardier CRJ aircraft, which operates regional flights in the area and has a maximum operating temperature of 118F (48C) — were unable to fly during the peak temperature hours of three to six p.m. yesterday when the temperature was expected to reach 120F (49C). Passengers on the grounded flights were encouraged to change their travel plans to arrive or depart on different planes.
North of the 49th parallel, however, you’re more likely to have your flight delayed or cancelled due to ice and snow in the middle of January than due to blazing heat during the summer. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Canada was in 1937 when the mercury rose to 45C in Saskatchewan, which isn’t quite hot enough to keep planes on the ground.
But with global temperature on the rise thanks to global warming — according to NASA, 2016 was the hottest year on record for the Earth, followed by 2015 and 2014 — it looks like temperatures are going to continue to climb. And that’s going to be an ongoing issue impacting more and more international travellers.
So remember to check the weather when booking your summer trips, and for goodness sake, please stay hydrated.