Airplane Weather-related Emergencies

Posted by Admin on

There are many steps you may take to improve the safety of the flight where weather is a factor. If you are in icing conditions, talk to air traffic and let them know what is going on, then ask for an altitude that will provide warmer temperatures. If you are in unexpected thunderstorms, let ATC know that. It may be impossible for you to hold altitude with updrafts and downdrafts that can be present around a thunderstorm cell. In these cases, fly the airplane at or below maneuvering speed, and maintain attitude. There is not much any plane can do to overcome the up and downdrafts, but if you keep the plane level and don’t let the airspeed get away from you, it improves the chances that you will fly through the cell safely. It can be very rough around thunderstorms, and you want to make sure your seat belt is very tight around you. Even then you may find your head banging up against the cabin ceiling.

Being caught as a VFR pilot in IFR conditions can be very unnerving. As a VFR pilot you use the instruments, but you are very reliant on the ground for navigation and location fixes. Losing that reference forces you to fly strictly on instruments. If you find yourself in this situation, keep flying the airplane, maintain a level attitude, and contact ATC, then let them know what your situation is. They would much rather help you get to an airport safely than have you poking through clouds and not be communicating with them. Scan all of the instruments, using that information to fly the airplane at the correct heading and altitude assigned. Maintain a safe airspeed, altitude, and heading, and you’ve got the plane under control.

Weather is always a major factor in aviation. If pilots respect that and use the available resources to determine what the weather is expected to do, they will avoid most weather-related surprises. But meteorologists are not able to forecast weather with 100 percent accuracy. Conditions can change rapidly, and pilots should combine what they have been told with what they see. If you see towering cumulus clouds on a warm, summer afternoon, it may be a precursor to thunderstorms. If the temperature is dropping as you encounter precipitation, you may end up in icing conditions. The combinations are endless. Notice what is going on and recognize that weather can change rapidly and that you may need to adjust your flight plans accordingly. Getting to your destination a few hours later because you waited for weather, or diverted around it, is much better than the alternative of not making it at all.

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