NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
The Impacts of Rising Temperatures on Aircraft Takeoff PerformanceSteadily rising mean and extreme temperatures as a result of climate change will likely impact the air transportation system over the coming decades. As air temperatures rise at constant pressure, air density declines, resulting in less lift generation by an aircraft wing at a given airspeed and potentially imposing a weight restriction on departing aircraft. This study presents a general model to project future weight restrictions across a fleet of aircraft with different takeoff weights operating at a variety of airports. We construct performance models for five common commercial aircraft and 19 major airports around the world and use projections of daily temperatures from the CMIP5 model suite under the RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 emissions scenarios to calculate required hourly weight restriction. We find that on average, 10 - 30% of annual flights departing at the time of daily maximum temperature may require some weight restriction below their maximum takeoff weights, with mean restrictions ranging from 0.5 to 4% of total aircraft payload and fuel capacity by mid- to late century. Both mid-sized and large aircraft are affected, and airports with short runways and high temperatures, or those at high elevations, will see the largest impacts. Our results suggest that weight restriction may impose a non-trivial cost on airlines and impact aviation operations around the world and that adaptation may be required in aircraft design, airline schedules, and/or runway lengths.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Coffel, Ethan
(Columbia Univ. New York, NY, United States)
Thompson, Terence R.
(Logistics Management Inst. McLean, VA, United States)
Horton, Radley M.
(Columbia Univ. New York, NY, United States)
Date Acquired
August 3, 2017
Publication Date
July 13, 2017
Publication Information
Publication: Climatic Change
ISSN: 0165-0009
Subject Category
Meteorology And Climatology
Air Transportation And Safety
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
air transportation system
extreme air temperature

Available Downloads

There are no available downloads for this record.
No Preview Available