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American Airlines canceled 50 flights out of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, this week -- due to problems with "extreme heat." it's been very hot, and the high temperatures can cause problems with take offs on the runways.
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It's so hot in Phoenix the airlines can't fly, here's why

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Tuesday, June 20, 2017, 12:21 PM - American Airlines has cancelled nearly 50 flights out of Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport on Tuesday afternoon. The reason: extreme heat.

Travellers attempting to fly out of Phoenix, AZ on Tuesday are having to deal with an added hassle, besides things like airport security lines and overbooked flights.

It's so hot in the city on Tuesday, that American Airlines cancelled nearly 50 flights, due to the heat exceeding the safety limits of some of their jets.

With temperatures expected to reach 49oC Tuesday afternoon, the airline grounded regional flights by American Eagle, between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., local time, as the Bombardier CRJ aircraft scheduled for these flights have a maximum operating temperature of 48oC.

DID YOU KNOW? The highest temperature ever recorded in Phoenix, AZ was 50oC, on June 26, 1990.

These temperature limits having nothing to do with the aircraft's structural tolerances or the performance of the jet's electronics. It's simply due to the physics of air travel.

When the air is that hot, it becomes too thin for the plane's wings to get enough lift to safely carry it into the sky.

Under these conditions, an aircraft would have to significantly lighten its load - carry less luggage or fewer passengers - or it would need a longer runway, in order for it to build up more speed for take off.

Larger aircraft, with wider wing-spans and more powerful engines, are not as affected by extreme temperatures.

This is a problem that is expected to worsen, due to the impacts of climate change.

Studies have shown that with the number of extreme temperature days on the rise, unless runways are lengthened, there will be more days when flights need to be cancelled in order to meet airline safety standards.

Source: USA Today

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