Phoenix, Arizona is no stranger to sweltering hot summer temperatures. However this summer the weather has been so hot that planes are unable to even fly in or out of the major commercial and public airports.
The immense heat forecast for tomorrow has forced the cancellation of at least twenty separate American Airlines flights inbound and outbound to the city via Sky Harbor Airport.
American Airlines released a statement which said, “American Eagle regional flights use the Bombardier CRJ aircraft, which has a maximum operating temperature of 118 degrees. Tuesday's forecast for Phoenix included a high of 120 degrees, and the flights that are affected were to take off between 3 and 6 p.m. MT.”
Thousands of customers will be affected by the sudden delay and are being directed to contact American Airlines for a refund or rescheduling of their flights.
The reason for the delays is scientific. Hot air is much less dense than cold air and when a temperature is higher a plane would need to increase the takeoff speed in order to lift off the ground putting not only the passengers and crew but the aircraft itself under greater risks.
American Airlines said it has alerted all travelers as early as Saturday about the predicted heat wave and recommended that they switch any flights scheduled to arrive or depart between 3 and 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. The flight changes would be free of charge for those affected by the heatwave.
Nearly three decades ago Phoenix had similar issues with record-setting high temperatures of 122 degrees on June 26, 1990, which in turn grounded some airlines for the day.
Much larger jets, such as Airbus and Boeing, aren't expected to be affected by this week's heat as the plane can withstand the increased takeoff speeds without incident.