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Warming climate will force airlines to shed weight, increase costs

Hotter air temperatures require faster speeds during takeoff

3:41pm, January 9, 2015
airplane takeoff

AIR LIFT  Rising temperatures caused by climate change will frequently limit aircraft takeoff.

PHOENIX — More frequent sweltering summer days will force commercial aircraft to go on a diet, new research suggests.

At some airports, effects of future climate change could as much as triple the number of days when departing planes face weight restrictions, climate scientist Ethan Coffel said January 8 at the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting.

Planes departing in warm, less dense air must reach higher speeds before generating enough lift to take off. If temperatures become too toasty, fully loaded planes can’t get up to speed before they run out of runway, and so have to lose weight. Since 1980, the number of summer days necessitating aircraft weight restrictions has increased alongside rising temperatures.

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