Decreased takeoff performance of aircraft due to climate change

Abstract

Climate change will likely affect aviation; however, it is not well understood. In particular, the effects of climate change on aircraft’s takeoff performance have seldom been studied. Here, we explore the effects of climate change on the takeoff performance of aircraft, including takeoff distance and climb rate. Takeoff performance normally decreases as temperature and pressure altitude increase. Our study confirms an increasing trend of temperature at 30 major international airports. However, the trend of pressure altitude is shown to be either positive or negative at these airports. Such changes of temperature and pressure altitude lead to longer takeoff distance and lower climb rate in the following century. The average takeoff distance in summer will increase by 0.95–6.5% and 1.6–11% from the historical period (1976–2005) to the mid-century (2021–2050) and from the mid- to late-century (2071–2100). The climb rate in summer will decrease by 0.68–3.4% and 1.3–5.2% from the history to the mid-century and from the mid- to late-century, respectively. Taking Boeing 737-800 aircraft as an example, our results show that it will require additional 3.5–168.7 m takeoff distance in future summers, with variations among different airports.

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Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modeling, which is responsible for CMIP, and we thank the climate modeling groups for producing and making their model data sets available. We also thank the US NCDC for monitoring climate data and making them available.

Funding

Funding for this research was provided through the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no: 11701485) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of Xiamen University (no: 20720150073).

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Correspondence to Yuntao Zhou.

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Zhou, Y., Zhang, N., Li, C. et al. Decreased takeoff performance of aircraft due to climate change. Climatic Change 151, 463–472 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-018-2335-7

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