Airlines almost always cancel their flights when a hurricane is approaching. This fact is confirmed by the number of airlines calling off their flights during the major weather events in 2017, such as Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
When weaker – but still severe – storms target an airport and its surrounding area, most airlines will postpone a takeoff or landing until the most serious part of a storm has passed. If there is a storm cell in the flight path, airlines may reroute the flight in order to prevent turbulence.
It is important to understand that although airlines and pilots take measures to avoid weather that produces strong wind and rain, avoiding harsh weather altogether is not always necessary. Depending on the skills of the pilots and the severity of the weather, it is generally safe to fly during storms because modern airliners are designed to withstand a considerable amount of wind, rain and lightning.v
When windy or stormy conditions are present, what strategies do pilots use to take off and land safely?
Commercial airliners are not completely resistant to wind. These airplanes possess a large surface area. They have a large fin near their tail end that can tilt the aircraft, which could result in significant problems.
During harsh weather, pilots will determine what control inputs they will require during takeoff. The crosswind might attempt to "lift" a wing and force the aircraft to move away from the runway heading. Preventing this situation is usually achieved by using the rudder input to keep the plane from rolling.
Landing in windy conditions can be a difficult. Autopilots cannot always contend with powerful crosswinds, so in these situations the landings are performed manually. Depending on what aircraft is being flown, there are a few strategies that might be used. A pilot's goal is to prevent the wind from pushing the aircraft off the center of the runway.
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