3.2 Climate Change and the Increasing Frequency of Weight Restriction

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 1:45 PM
Room 344 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Ethan David Coffel, NASA/GISS, New York, NY; and T. R. Thompson and R. M. Horton

Rising mean and extreme temperatures due to climate change are expected to increase the need for weight restriction of commercial aircraft in the coming decades. Air density declines as temperature rises, requiring an aircraft wing to move at a higher speed in order to produce the necessary lift for takeoff; if the available runway is not long enough to reach this speed, weight must be removed from the aircraft to allow it to depart. Prior work has estimated the change in the number of days requiring weight restriction for a Boeing 737-800 by mid-century, but in this study, a more complete analysis of the impacts of future weight restriction is presented. Projected future schedule data at selected airports in the United States is coupled with full models of future daily temperature, aircraft fuel consumption, and required runway length at a given temperature to estimate the magnitude of weight restriction required for on a given flight. The results presented here will allow for an analysis of the economic impact of increasing weight restriction across an airline's fleet and route network, providing a more detailed picture of this impact of climate change on the aviation industry.
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