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Researchers suggest global warming will cause more weight restriction days for airlines

Posted November 28, 2014

A pair of researchers with Columbia University is suggesting that global warming could cause airlines to experience more weight restriction days in the future. In their paper published in the American Meteorological Society Journal, Ethan Coffel and Radley Horton describe a study they conducted on the likely impact on the airline business as temperatures worldwide heat up.

planeAn airliner lands at sunset


One of the things that impacts an airplane’s ability to take off is temperature—the warmer it is, the less dense the air, which impacts lift. In practical terms, that means that an airplane will have to be traveling faster to become airborne on a hot day, than a cold day, if it weighs the same for both trips. For commercial airliners, moving faster generally means remaining on the ground longer to give the craft more time to build up speed. The other alternative is to reduce weight. For airports with short runways, this is a problem—many already experience weight restriction days when it gets hot. In this new effort, the researchers suggest that because the future it likely to present us with more hot days, that will mean more weight restriction days for some airports.

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