Private Pilots Need to Brush Up on Safe Summer Flying

Source: Gino Santa Maria/123RF

Summer flying presents some unique challenges.

Aircraft are safe to operate in the warmest summer weather as well as heatwaves, and many aircraft are safety rated to operate in temperatures of up to around 128 degrees Fahrenheit.

All private aircraft are fitted with energy-efficient, high-performance cooling systems so that guests travel in comfort no matter how hot it gets outside.

However, this very hot weather does change the performance of the aircraft.

Because warm air is thinner than cool air, the aircraft’s fuel economy and aerodynamic capabilities are affected. It takes more power to get the aircraft into the air and this usually means a higher fuel consumption and a longer runway is required.

This is factored into the flight plan, so it doesn’t affect the quality of your private flight experience.

As the ground heats up, rising columns of air cause turbulence, making it hard to hold altitude, and causing your passengers to get sick. Nobody wants that to happen in your plane.

Fly early in the morning, avoid the thermals, and make your passengers happy.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) offers a list of 10 things for private pilots to keep in mind before getting into the pilot’s seat for that summer flight:

  1. Loss of Control;
  2. Thunderstorms;
  3. Weather Know-How;
  4. Density Altitude;
  5. License status;
  6. Physiology;
  7. Runway Safety;
  8. Know your instruments;
  9. Emergencies; and
  10. Illegal charter operations.

Hot weather has a significant impact on your plane, in multiple ways. But if you know what to expect, you can mitigate the risk.