Weather can have a major impact on airlines, airports and indeed all types of flying.
Although most airliners navigate by the use of instruments and air traffic control instructions, landing and then taxiing around the airport normally require the pilots to be able to look out of the cockpit and see the ground.
Many airports and aircraft are fitted with instrument landing systems but only rarely do these allow the aircraft to autoland with no input from the pilot. Therefore if the visibility is poor it can affect aviation and reduce the amount of take offs and landings at airports.
Even once an aircraft has landed the pilot will visually taxi the aircraft around the airport to the terminal, and vice versa when an aircraft is taking off. At major airports this can involve a long and complicated taxi with pilots needing to follow traffic light style signals and painted ground markings.
As a result when there is fog or low cloud airports and air traffic control will use reduced visibility procedures which limit the number of flights to below normal.
In flight aircraft will attempt to avoid thunderstorms as although aircraft can conduct lightning strikes there is the potential to damage the aircraft or its electronic systems. Air traffic control will therefore route aircraft around known storms. The extra work this gives the controller and the extended routes aircraft will fly means that it can reduce the amount of aircraft that can be in the airspace.
Aircraft are designed and tested to extreme levels of G force but if turbulence is encountered during the flight this can be an uncomfortable experience for passengers, or in extreme cases may cause injury. To help minimise the risk of turbulence pilots are provided with forecasts of areas where turbulence is likely to be encountered and for passenger comfort the crew will therefore normally try and avoid these areas, for example by flying at a slightly different height, although this may not always be possible.
However, in certain conditions turbulence can be difficult to forecast and can occur unexpectedly, even though the weather appears to be clear. Passengers can help to prevent injuries from unexpected turbulence by listening to and following the crews advice at all times such as keeping seat belts fastened and by making sure that any hand luggage in overhead lockers is correctly stored.
Provide page feedback
Please enter your comments below, or use our usual service contacts if a specific matter requires an answer.
Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.
Latest from UK Civil Aviation Authority
- UK Civil Aviation Authority confirms level of cap on future charges of Heathrow Airport Limited in the best interest of consumers
- UK Civil Aviation Authority announces members of its new Environmental Sustainability Panel
- UK Civil Aviation Authority announces landmark changes for pilots and air traffic controllers living with HIV