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Category: Weather Weather
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Of all things which influence the safety of flight, the weather, the characteristics and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, is without doubt the most powerful.

The following have a direct and indirect influence on flight safety:

  • Turbulence associated with convective activity (for example, thunderstorms), terrain (for example, the movement of air masses over mountains), jet streams and the interaction between air masses, can cause structural damage to aircraft.
  • In-Flight Icing can alter the aerodynamic characteristics of an aircraft, cause damage to the engines, and seriously effect the performance of an aircraft.
  • Reduced visibility, associated with cloud, mist, fog, or sand stormss, can make safe flight difficult or even impossible, even with the help of technology (Instrument Landing System (ILS), weather radar, synthetic vision systems, etc)
  • Surface contamination; rain, ice, snow on take-off, landing and manoeuvre surfaces.
  • Wind; the influence of wind on take-off, landing, and en-route performance, cross-wind on landing.
  • Precipitation; for example rain, hail, and snow effect aerodynamics and visibility.

Many, of the operational safety issues that are addressed on this website are influenced by weather (for example Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) accidents often occur in low visibility situations) when the crew are working hard to cope with the extra workload associated with the weather conditions.

There are numerous specific mitigation strategies to maintain the safety of flight in certain types of weather. These may be technical, procedural, or navigation related, or all three, and it may be necessary to delay or cancel the flight if no safe mitigation is available. A common requirement is that all those associated with the safety of flight should have an understanding of meteorology.

Further reading

The study of aviation meteorology can be divided into a number of topics: