[CLOSED] Is it ever too cold for a plane to take off?

I was curious if there is a temperature on the ground that a plane can not take off? Looking for articles or pilots/engineers who may know the answer to this question. When considering air density/air temperature/takeoff/landing speeds etc.

What do the really cold temperatures do to an aircraft for taking-off? Is there a point when it is just too cold for an aircraft to get lift?

Thanks - A Curious Aircraft Enthusiast.

I mean if the jet fuel freezes it can but it looks like it is only an extreme case of -40 degrees F. So theoretically yes. I haven’t been in that situation though where freezing is an issue as I live down in the South.

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I’m no expert on fueling jets though so.

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I am not to sure i am not a physicist but i can give it a go…
Well from past experience when i travelled to Iceland are departing flight had to be deiced twice due icicles forming on the wings and the fuselage of the aircraft. I know the cold can affect the lift of the aircraft as i presume the thinness of the air affects lift. Not to sure if aircraft have minimum operating temperatures like cars have.

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I’m not quite sure myself if the cold itself will hinder a plane from taking off other than cold weather bring a lot of other dilemmas. If the temperature goes below -0 Celsius, you’ll see ice building up on the wings of an plane. Therefore we in North, have de-icing, which takes time, ultimately leading to delayed flights or even in extreme cases cancelled flights. Ice on the wings, can jam the flaps, the ailerons and ice on the tail can jam the rudder.

Scandinavian Airlines Flight 751, Crashed after taking off from Stockholm on a cold winter morning, the cause was that de-icing has been poorly done and the ice had come lose when the plane got airborne, which the icicle parts got sucked in to the engines causing them to malfunction.

Then the cold brings snow, in the northern hemisphere where it snows, Scandinavian, Canada, many part of USA, and Russia + Japan and South Korea, the snow can make flights be delayed or cancelled.

But if the cold temperature itself is a issue for flights, I wouldn’t think it is much of a bummer, since all commercial jets go through rigorous weather condition tests before been certified, safe to use commercially, for the passengers’ safety.

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Regarding lift, hot and high airports are a challenge. The aircraft will accelerate slower and climb at a lower rate because of air density. Warmer and more humid air affects performance. Colder air is good for performance.
(Simplified explanation)


I appreciate this simplified explanations. I had heard of flights being cancelled in places like Phoenix where the temperatures get too hot, but I wasn’t sure if the same could be said for cold temperatures. All I could find was impacts of system fuels/liquids and freezing parts. Not necessarily anything impacting the laws of aerodynamics and Bernoulli’s principles.

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moisture is the only concern in low temp. i.e: icing, runway conditions, etc.

For high altitude, Jet A can have Prist added, though this isnt to lower freezing point of thr fuel itself, but any H2O that may be in fuel or condensated in fuel system (if water freezes can block fuel lines and such) JP8 (military) already has anti-ice additive. Most jets have fuel to oil heat exchangers anyway which keeps fuel flowing at temps that are of no. concern for ice.

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High temps raise issues of density altitude. Can make takeoffs/ climbouts a struggle as if you were already at a higher altitude even though youre on ground. Makes performance suffer.

Dat weight and balance… killing peeps since 1902.

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Good info.
Even JP8 can freeze lol. Based on own experience


I believe ya. Maybe my friction with the surrounding air molecules was always a little on the high side to let it ever start thinking about freezing… 😂

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@Wilco062 perhaps you could add some insight given you operate aircraft in a cold environment?

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The icing on the wings is honestly not as much of an issue unless it is on the leading edge. The way the anti-icing systems work, they only impact the leading edge through either bleed air or electric pads with coils. The reason for only the leading edge surface being the only thing with the anti-ice system is that the leading edge of a surface has the most control over lift and drag. It is the first thing the air stream hits and therefore directs the flow of the air moving above and below the surface or left and right in the case of the vertical stab. The engines also get anti-ice to keep the blades of the fan from forming ice to keep ice from being digested into the turbine section of the engine. As far as flight control surfaces jamming that is pretty much a myth. With hydraulic systems that operate anywhere between 1500-4000 psi they will move any surface. There is alot of force from the actuators to the surface they move. The only way they would jam is if something extremely hard got in the way of the path and even then it would just jack up the item in the way or the connection point for the surface that it was blocking

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As far as fluids freezing that is mostly a non issues due to aircraft having ways around it. For instance, hydraulic lines are coiled up inside the fuel tanks to heat the fuel and cool the hydraulic fluid due to the heat caused by friction creating pressure. Same thing with oil. Oil gets hotter than fuel and there is a cooler that again, heats fuel and cools the oil

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Actually correct me if I’m wrong, but icing, and any other side affects of the cold aside, it actually gets easier for planes to fly in the cold since the air is more dense right?

Cold temperatures are actually very helpful, performance wise, so the colder, the more your aircraft performs. Engines have plenty of time to heat up before takeoff that its never a problem. Don’t forget that planes fly at 40’000 feet in -60 degrees temperature for hours without a problem…

The only cold weather hazard is icing, which is deiced easily.


Again Icing hurts performance, not the tempature itself

So more or less what you’re saying is that it’s the side affects (snow, ice, icing on the wings, etc) that can make it tricky, not the cold it’s self?

Jet engines work by compressing air and injecting fuel that is than ignited. The more air the more power. Kind of like how an vehicle engine works

That would be correct