Is there a temperature that would not allow commercial jets to be able to take off?
– Curious flyer, Montana
Yes, there are maximum temperature listed in the performance charts. If the temperature exceeds the flight cannot depart.
In some cases it may be possible for the operator to contact the manufacturer and obtain the needed performance information. I had this happen one hot summer afternoon in Phoenix. The maximum temperature was 110F and while we were on the ground it exceeded that. Our dispatch office obtained performance information from Boeing for our specific flight and that was sent to me allowing us to depart after a slight delay.
At very high temperatures, the amount of payload an aircraft can carry can be limited. Offloading cargo and/or passengers is sometimes necessary as the hot air is not as dense reducing available lift.
You recently wrote that it is possible to overfly a hurricane while staying away from the storm. Do many flights actually do that? Or are flights given paths well away from hurricanes, to eliminate even the remote chance of a mechanical failure necessitating descent into such a storm? How much longer do passengers spend in the air when flights take wide paths around storms?
– John, West Lafayette, Indiana
Yes, there are times when overflying a hurricane is a good decision. One example is a flight from Philadelphia to San Juan with a Category 1 hurricane off the South Carolina coast. It could…