March 27, 2021

Executive Education: How Different Weather Conditions Affect Private Jet Travel

What to Expect Aboard Your Business Jet While Flying to Your Next Meeting

You can lead your company to success, but you can’t control the weather.

It’s an age-old problem affecting flights since the beginning of air travel. All types of weather patterns can challenge your flight and your pilots’ ability to fly your private jet - even ones you’d think would be perfect for taking to the skies.

And while private jet travel seeks to decrease the overall chances of flight delays, weather is still a major factor.

Let’s take a look at how the weather in your area may challenge your flight - or make it pleasant.

Sunny Days and Private Jet Travel
High air temperatures, which accompany summer sun, can affect the performance of your aircraft.

For one, hot air is thinner than cooler air. Thin air affects engine output, aerodynamics, climb performance, and maximum payload. It will even increase the required runway distance your plane needs to get off the ground.

In hot temperatures, your pilot knows to use a higher engine thrust setting, so it’s rare that heat will ground your jet.

How Wind Affects Your Private Jet in Flight
Wind direction can help or hinder your jet. A tailwind, for example, pushes your aircraft through the air and can shorten the time you’re in the air. A headwind, though, does the opposite by slowing your aircraft’s top speed.

Crosswinds, however, blow into the sides of the plane, which can make flights more tricky, particularly during takeoff and landing.

If you take transatlantic flights in your business jet, headwinds and tailwinds are illustrated quite clearly. Westerly jet streams blow in a narrow band at the altitude at which most aircraft fly, cutting down flight time in one direction, but not the other (depending on where you’re flying to and from).

Flying on Rainy Days
Businesses in certain parts of Great Britain or the Pacific Northwest of the United States are familiar with frequent rainy days. Thankfully, rain doesn’t affect flights very much when it’s just rain alone. Combine it with heavy winds or thunderstorms, and there’s greater difficulty in flight planning. But rain is quite simple to deal with.

The main concern during periods of rain is visibility. At high speeds in the air, water stays clear from the windshield, and instruments have no problem detecting what’s ahead. However, at slower speeds, such as during taxiing or landing, your pilot may turn on the windscreen wipers or high-pressure air system to remove water from the windshield. Some jets rely on hydrophobic windshield coatings, which repel water. (You can get the same hydrophobic coating for your luxury vehicle!)

Flying in Fog
Poor visibility is a leading factor in flight delays. When the visibility at an airport drops below 1,500 meters (also called Runway Visual Range), then the airport is required to enforce Low Visibility Procedures (LVPs). During LVPs, the number of aircraft taking off and landing must be limited to prevent accidents.

Private jet flights allow for last-minute changes of plans during foggy weather, which you do not get on a traditional commercial airline.

Flying in a Private Jet During Thunderstorms
Cumulonimbus clouds are the ones responsible for producing thunderstorms. When these clouds are present, private jets will climb faster after takeoff to get above the weather. Private jet pilots can then navigate around these clouds as needed thanks to more flexibility in their approved flight paths. However, commercial airline pilots don’t have this option.

Smaller aircraft, like your business jet, can be easily maneuvered into a different runway approach, avoiding thunderstorms in their path. They also can descend later and faster to keep out of bad weather for the majority of your trip.

Because pilots cannot fly into a cumulonimbus cloud for safety reasons, your flight could still be delayed by clouds directly over your departure airport. Planes also cannot be refueled when these clouds are nearby, as it can increase the risk of lightning strikes.

Dealing with Ice and Snow
Most cold weather issues for private jets occur when they’re on the ground. Aircraft can handle incredibly cold temperatures with no problems, but snow and ice on the ground affect the condition of the runway and cause ice build-up on the plane itself.

For safety, all aircraft must be de-iced before take-off. Smaller, private jets can be de-iced more quickly than larger ones with more surface area, however, so your flight may not be delayed as long as it would have been had you taken a commercial airline to your destination.

If heavy snows ground commercial airlines, it could take them days to reschedule flights to move their passengers. However, private jets can return to normal immediately, so you can be on your way quickly after the snow has passed.

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