How does Weather affect my Private Flight?

How does Weather affect my Private Flight?

Weather is the single most important risk factor for both private and commercial flights, and charter companies and pilots constantly receive updated weather reports through the day and throughout their flights to ensure that passenger safety and travel time isn’t compromised. Here’s how different weather can affect your flight.

The primary concern with rain for a private flight is visibility, particularly for takeoffs and landings. While at higher cruising speeds, the airflow clears water from the windshield quite effectively, the pilot needs a clear visual view at slower speeds as well, mainly when coming into land or taxiing on the ground. During the flight, the airflow alone should be enough to clear water from the windshield and sustain visibility. Thankfully, private aircrafts are typically equipped with wipers, high-pressure air systems, or hydrophobic windshield coatings.

Although rain seems to be one of the least problematic weather complications when flying, when combined with very heavy winds, it can cause extra considerations and challenges to flight planning. Wind direction and speeds can affect flight times and can also cause turbulence. While a tailwind can propel the jet and decrease flight length, a headwind will go against flight paths and increase flight lengths. Both winds along with gusts and crosswinds can affect both landing and takeoff as well. Gusts of wind that change direction quickly can also create unsafe conditions and produce higher amounts of turbulence that can injure passengers. Pilots are extensively trained to take corrective actions in high winds, but it can still create a safety concern and must be taken into consideration for any private flight.

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Let’s dive into the types of wind and their effect on your flight.
Tailwind: pushes the aircraft forward through the air, strong tail wind will increase the aircraft’s ground speed and shorten the journey.
Head wind: the aircraft flying against the wind direction thus, slowing the aircraft’s ground speed and making the journey time longer.
Jet streams: strong westerly winds that blow in a narrow band in the Earth’s upper atmosphere at the altitudes used by most aircrafts. Where these packets of fast moving air form a tube, they are called jet streams. These jet streams can cause quite a bit of turbulence and although turbulence may be a troubling factor, it isn’t a safety concern.

Snow and Ice
Snow and ice are very reasonable grounds to delay a flight. Even though aircrafts were designed to withstand freezing temperatures and extreme conditions, precautions must be taken for the passengers and the crew’s safety. If snow and/or ice are not properly cleared, it can create unsafe conditions on runways. The benefit of a private flight, however, is the ability to redirect to airports that are less impacted.

If there is significant buildup of ice or snow, the plane has a legal safety requirement to de-ice before it can get in the air. Ice can increase weight on the plane, affect the flow of air over the plane, increase drag, and reduce lift. De-icing will prevent ice and snow from forming or accumulating but it can take time. With a private flight, that time frame can be drastically reduced though.

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On the same note, any storm can affect visibility. While radar systems can keep aircraft on the right track, landing on a slick runway with minimal visibility can be cause for concern for inexperienced pilots due to standing water and its ability to cause a plane to hydroplane or skid off the runway.

With the flexibility to change routes during a heavy downpour, a private aircraft can avoid a good deal of rainy weather. One thing that sometimes cannot be avoided is Cumulonimbus (thunderstorm clouds). These particular clouds bring the threat of lightning, which can pose a risk even while still on the ground preparing for flight. On the quite literal bright side, once in flight, a pilot has the ability to rise above and fly over most of this type of bad weather to lessen its impact on the travel experience.

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Another weather condition that may affect visibility is fog. Fog is often patchy and variable – with some airports affected while others remain clear. so just as with snow, a private jet flight allows for last minute changes of plan during foggy weather, finding gaps in the fog and re-routing the flight accordingly – not an option open to airlines.

When the visibility at an airport drops below 1,500m (described by pilots and airports as RVR – Runway Visual Range) the airport enforces Low Visibility Procedures (LVPs). During LVPs, Air Traffic will reduce the number of aircraft taxing and taking off to prevent accidents and incidents occurring.

At LIVT, our members' safety is our top priority. While we will do absolutely everything necessary to get you to your desired destination, our team aims to do so in the safest manner possible. Correspondingly, our team relies on experienced professionals at the airport, flight controllers and our pilots to determine the ability to fly. In addition, while we can’t control the weather, by flying private you benefit from private runways and FBO’s meaning you’ll run into less trouble and frustration as you await the conclusion. Finally, if potentially troublesome weather is forthcoming, your Designated Lifestyle Coordinator will be sure to contact you.

So what are you waiting for? Envoy the hassle-free lifestyle and join LIVT today!

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