Weather that Impacts Flight Plans

There are many types of weather that may impact your flight.  Pilots, aircraft dispatchers, and air traffic controllers put a lot of time and effort into trying to avoid these phenomena. While weather is always unpredictable, a general understanding of how weather can impact your aircraft operations, may help your travel plans run smoothly and increase your comfort in flight.

Thunderstorms can be hazardous to aircraft due to high winds, hail, and their generally unpredictable nature. Aircraft dispatchers are trained to assist in planning flight paths that are clear of thunderstorm weather. They take into account wind direction and speed. When multiple storms develop in a region, the storms block local air routes. This causes a delay in flight. Additionally, wind shear, a sudden and unpredictable change in wind direction and/or velocity, may be caused by thunderstorms. This causes a sudden loss of altitude, which can be critical in phases like taking off or landing, and when the aircraft is flying slowly and low to the ground. Aircraft dispatchers who have been highly trained at the world’s best aircraft dispatching schools, like Sheffield’s School of Aeronautics, can professionally assess thunderstorms and make ground delays as they see fit, all while keeping passenger safety at the forefront.

Tropical weather in the Atlantic Ocean usually peaks in the fall season. The potential for great impact and dangerous debris during a tropical storm or hurricane, can cause a temporary suspension of all flights. To ensure the safety of passengers and your aircraft, it is best to bunker down and protect your belongings.

Fog can be the most popular weather condition during flights. It causes low cloud base and reduces visibility, which makes flight operation more stringent. The morning hours are affected more frequently, but it can often last until the afternoon hours.

Snow and Ice can be a major challenge for aviation. Snow and ice on the aircraft require de-icing, so they do not adversely impact the ability of the plane to fly. In the event of snow and/or ice the airline’s aircraft dispatcher may initiate departure delays, and while this may aggravate traveling passengers it is for their safety. De-icing is an important factor in lift capability. If ice is on the wing or surfaces of an aircraft, it will be more difficult to lift the aircraft due to weight. It can also change the way the air flows if ice is contained on the wings of an aircraft. Reduced visibility and cloud bases during snowfall limit the use of some airports, especially those in mountainous regions.

Jet streams are high-speed, narrow air currents found at altitudes above 35,000 feet. During the winter months, jet streams flow from west to east across North America at speeds typically in excess of 130mph.  When flying from east to west, these strong headwinds may cause turbulence and/or extended flight times, which may lead to additional fuel stops. Conversely, flying from west to east along the jet stream will reduce the overall flight time.

Flying an aircraft during vigorous weather conditions can be a dangerous task. With the help and knowledge of an aircraft dispatcher or an air traffic controller, pilots are able to fly in these conditions with ease and guidance. Having the knowledge of what to do during harsh weather can help save many lives, and that is what aircraft dispatchers are for.

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