Monday, March 23, 2009

Crashing Aircraft Unexpected Casualties of Climate Change

Freakish high winds, gusts on runways, errant flocks of wild geese, iced runways. We could see more airline crashes as climate change worsens. Something as apparently harmless as stronger winds may begin to impact more and more on conventional flightpaths. The upshot of all this will be more energy consumed redirecting flights to safer, less weather-affected airports, more rain-and-weather-related delays etc.

I've flown on some narrow winged McDonnell Douglas aircraft, operated by 1Time. They are particularly susceptible to wind sheer. While flying - at cruising altitude, they don't handle turbulence well, let alone turbulence when landing. This plane that crashed doesn't appear to be the narrow wing rocket shaped aircraft though.
clipped from
Raw video: FedEx cargo plane crashes in Japan

TOKYO – A FedEx cargo plane burst into flames after bouncing off a runway in unusually high winds at Tokyo's main international airport Monday, killing the pilot and copilot and closing a major runway for several hours.

The flight from Guangzhou, China, skipped along the main runway at Narita Airport before skidding to a fiery halt, footage from airport security cameras showed. Firefighters and rescuers immediately swarmed the plane.
Emergency personnel try to rescue the crew from a FedEx cargo plane after it

Unusually strong winds of up to about 47 miles per hour (76 kilometers per hour) were blowing through Narita City on Monday morning around the time of the crash, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Airport officials said it was too early to say whether the strong winds caused the crash.

Strong winds and turbulence have caused other recent incidents at the airport. Last month, a flight from the Philippines was jolted by severe turbulence as it circled prior to landing, injuring 50 passengers and crew members.

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