The Infinite Flight Steam Blog: How Weather Affects Airports

Welcome back to the fourth edition of the Infinite Flight Steam Blog. Discussion is welcome and encouraged. If there are any issues with this please pm me.
In today’s edition we will be discussing how weather can affect airport operations.

The weather can play a massive role in airport operations both in the air and on the ground. While low clouds, fog, rain, and snow will make it harder to land due to low visibility, the wi do determine which runways are used for takeoff and landing. A key element in a pilot’s preflight checklists is the weather which affects both the flight plans and the amount of fuel taken for the flight.

    Wind 

The wind speed and direction play a major part in airport runway usage. Typically aircraft will takeoff into the wind although, they can also takeoff/land with it if it is not too strong. Crosswinds ( winds that blow across the runway at a 90 degree angle ) are not a problem, they can become one if it is stronger than 15 knots.

    Fog and Low Visibility 

Fog and low visibility have a significant impact on airport operations. Most modern airlines and airports have sophisticated equipment to allow takeoff and landing when faced with low vis. The problem occurs when taxiing because the pilots and ground controllers are not able to see the aircraft to ensure safety. Some airports may have smgcs equipment to allow operations to continue.

  Snow 


Image credit: WTOP
During heavy snow, visibility can become poor. While most commercial airports have snow clearing equipment some do not. If the snow falls faster than plow crews can clear it, the runways may become slick and hard to see.

Thunder Storms 

A thunder storm in the area around an airport will stop ground operations as the threat posed by lightning can be fatal to ground workers. Thunderstorms also bring other dangerous conditions including poor visibility, heavy rainfall, hail, turbulence, tornadoes, and wind shear.

If the weather is bad enough, aircraft may enter holding patterns to wait out the weather or divert to another suitable airfield.

Royal Air Maroc


Image credit : Boeing

Royal Air Maroc is the national flag carrier for the country of Morocco. From its base at Casablanca airport the airline servers destinations in Morocco, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Currently their fleet consists of 6 atr72-600, 28 Boeing 737-800, 2 737 max 8, 5 787-8 , 4 787-9 , and 4 e-190 aircraft. As a member of one world the airline has code shares with Air Senegal, American, Brussels, British, Etihad, Iberia, ITA, JetBlue, Kenya, Qatar, Saudia, and Turkish airlines.

Aviation News You Might Have Missed

1: Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines stock holders have agreed to the acquisition . It still requires doj approval.
2: American Airlines has increased the cost of checked baggage.
3: Frontier had added 10 routes out of cle, and 6 out of cvg.
4: Embraer had selected has chosen Aciturri and Crouzet as two of its main vendors for its eve program.
5: Due to new emission rules the last 767 will be produced in 2027.

If you have any suggestions for future topics or ideas leave a comment below. If you like the content I put out please leave a like below as bringing content every week is a massive undertaking.

11 Likes

There will not be any blog post next week due to an upcoming project and the amount of research needed for it.

What’s with the random description of RAM at the bottom?

A big one: frost! When dew point approaches a ground temperature below freezing, frost can seriously inhibit aircraft performance if not properly equipped.

1 Like

Each week we feature a main article along with an airline not well known and aviation news for that week.

Going to go down a bit of a rabbit hole here.

Many larger airports across the United States have a system that helps with aircraft movement during low visibility. The system airports use is called Surface Movement Guidance Control System (SMGCS). lighting system. For example, in Denver, once the vertical visibility drops below 1200ft for most of the airfield, the FAA Tower will declare the airfield in SMGCS (sounds like smigs). More lighting at runway/taxiway intersections are used. Below 1200ft, certain parts of the airfield taxiway centerline lights turn off so pilots don’t miss a turn. Additionally, if the airfield goes below 500ft RVR then certain runways are no longer used. Some runways and parallel taxiways will completely turn off and won’t be available for use till there is better visibility. On top of aircraft movement, tugs, trucks, and other ground equipment movement are restricted from crossing taxiways and taxiways into the ramp.

It actually is quite interesting, most large hub primary airports in the United States have this system.

Here’s an A/C about SMGCS and Low Vis Operations | AC 120-57C

https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC_120-57C.pdf

This is how runway stop bar lights are used with the lead on lines. The Tower has control of these lights.

1 Like

Cool did not know about these. It is still an issue at smaller airports that don’t have the equipment.

Exactly, so low visibility is tough for smaller airports to get planes out because they don’t have it. Airports like DEN, ATL, and DTW can still depart and arrive with very low visibility.

These posts are very informative so keep them up!

1 Like

You should see 3 new series starting in march.