Winter Weather? We're Ready.

As the cold weather ensnares much of the country, some passengers may find themselves experiencing a flight delay—at times even in a city without snow—but why? As professional airline pilots who are Trained for Life, we take many things into consideration when preparing the aircraft for a safe, on-time departure. However, factors out of our control may force a delay, particularly in the winter months.

When calculating performance requirements for every takeoff, we take variables like temperature, altitude, and precipitation, among others, into consideration. In the winter, when precipitation is often snow or other types of frozen contaminants, we must ensure that the aircraft is free of these types of precipitation, which involves deicing and anti-icing the aircraft.

As the aircraft accelerates down the runway, the airflow over the wings generates the lift necessary to take the aircraft airborne. To maximize the lifting capabilities of the wings, procedures such as deicing and anti-icing are accomplished. These processes ensure that the aircraft is free from frozen precipitation adhering to the aircraft.

This process of deicing uses a heated fluid to melt and clear the frozen contaminants that may be adhering to the lifting surfaces of the aircraft, the skin on the wings and tail, and also other critical areas.

After deicing, if precipitation and freezing conditions are expected to continue, we will also anti-ice the aircraft, which is a spray-on application of an additional thicker fluid that inhibits ice or snow accumulation for a period of time based on temperature, type of precipitation, intensity, and time of exposure.  

These important safety procedures take extra time and may cause a departure delay. Depending on how long the initial delay was for a single flight, it may cause delays for later flights scheduled on that same aircraft or other flights, even in a city where the weather is warm.

Rest assured that professional airline pilots do our best to ensure each and every flight is operated safely, and we work with our fellow crew, as well as airline and airport colleagues to ensure as smooth a process as possible for your travels.

Categories: Safety
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