DALLAS (CBS11) – Several regional flights were canceled on Monday out of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and the headaches are not over.
American Airlines announced Monday night it was canceling 43 more regional flights out of the Valley of the Sun on Tuesday due to extreme heat.
Temperatures in parts of Arizona soared to 118 degrees and forecasters predict it could hit 120 degrees on Tuesday.
“Bottom line is that it’s for their safety,” said Denny Kelly, a former commercial pilot. “When it happened to us, we sat at the gate or we went back to the hotel. I mean, nothing you can do.”
Kelly said the hotter it gets, the thinner the air becomes. Excessive Heat Causes 50 Flight Cancellations
“The engines don’t produce as much power at the higher temperatures,” said Kelly.
American Airlines said its larger planes like the Airbus and Boeing aircraft can handle heat around 127 degrees. But the smaller, regional planes that often fly to smaller cities can only withstand 118 degrees.
“A lot more people fly, so consequently there are more flights,” said Kelly. “So there’s going to be more flights affected.”
Meteorologist Matt Stalley at the National Weather Service in Fort Worth said as warmer, average temperatures are recorded, a trend of heat-related flight cancellations is possible.
“That’s not necessarily going to be noticeable in any short term sense,” said Stalley. “Usually when it comes to things like temperature changes when you start talking about things like global warming, it’s over a very long time period.”
Stalley said the all-time record high for DFW is around 113 degrees. He does not see it impacting flights in North Texas just yet.
“It’s going to take something pretty special to happen and I don’t foresee that happening anytime in our immediate future,” said Stalley.
Aviation experts point to two factors that work in favor of DFW International Airport.
The elevation is 600 feet above sea level, as opposed to other airport at higher altitudes. Kelly also pointed to DFW’s longer runways that allow pilots more time and distance to reach higher take-off speeds when the air is hot.