The Key Reason Why Planes Can’t Fly In The Heat – It More To Do Than Just The Airframe
(Lior Mizrahi/Stringer/Getty Images)
Everyone likes to say that they are too hot to handle, but airplanes actually do have a point where they are too hot to handle. Planes have many methods of cooling including air conditioning and using a white color scheme to avoid absorbing excessive heat. Despite these preventative measures there actually does reach a point where it is simply too hot to fly.
The inability to fly has less to do with the heating up the airframe and more to do with the heating of the air. When planes are taking off their wings catch air molecules in order to generate lift, wider wings catch more molecules as they take off. When the temperature increases the air molecules move faster and begin losing density, making it difficult to generate the lift necessary to achieve takeoff.
Although temperatures rarely rise about 120 degrees Fahrenheit it does happen every now and again. Earlier this year at least 40 airliners were grounded at the Phoenix Airport as temperatures rose above 120. For a more detailed lesson on aircraft flight and heat just check out this video from the SciShow.