Some Flights Shut Down At U.S. Western Airports As Powerful Southwest Heat Moves Through The Region
by Heather Cassell
Scorching sun grounds some planes between San Francisco International Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as temperatures rise upward to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Passengers said if you ever wanted to feel like a lobster in a pot the past two days were the days.
“Oh my god it was insane, like stepping into an oven,” Luis Angel Ortiz, a future University of Arizona student who got stuck in Phoenix when his flight got grounded due to the heat after attending his college orientation, told ABC 7 News.
For the second day in a row, severe heat reaching upward of 120 degrees Fahrenheit have grounded some flights. Seven flights were cancelled Monday, reported CNN.
Tuesday, American Airlines cancelled about 50 flights scheduled for this afternoon, reported ABC 7 News.
More cancellations could be on the way depending on the type of aircraft being flown.
So far, no flights have been cancelled out of San Francisco due to the larger Boeing and airbus jets can handle upwards of nearly 130 degrees, said retired commercial pilot and Phoenix Larry Cochran, who was on the flight from Phoenix to San Francisco, told ABC 7 News.
He’s seen when Pheonix’s airport was shut down due to soaring temperatures that softened the asphalt to a point where planes were sinking into it, he said. That was about 20 years ago.
The problem today is the thinner air caused by the heat. Hotter air is thinner affecting how planes take off. Thinner air equals a longer runway need to take flight, according to an American Airlines spokesperson and Cochran.
Arizona knows heat and therefore the airport’s runway is long enough. San Francisco with its fog doesn’t do well with heat and therefore the runways are shorter.
Additionally, some smaller regional jets aren’t equipped for high temperatures unlike larger airplanes. Many cannot take off at temperatures hotter than 117 degrees Fahrenheit, the statement from said.
“Our smaller regional operations — those that use our CRJ aircraft types — will be most affected by the heat,” the airline’s communication specialist Kent Powell told CNN. “We really aren’t expecting any change to the operation with our mainline aircraft.”
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