New Dangers of Flying Near-Empty Airplanes
The ongoing COVID pandemic has caused a plethora of unexpected issues. Despite these setbacks, airliners are coping and adapting as quickly as possible thanks to the efforts put in by pilots as well as other aviation crew members.
One of the more perplexing challenges facing aviation relates to how pilots should fly airplanes that are nearly empty. Recently the FAA has issued over 50 warnings based on these safety concerns. Let’s take a look at why.
Airplanes Take Off Like Rocket Ships
When commercial airplane pilots are trained to fly, the lessons typically include calculations for passenger weight. Over time, implementing these commands become second nature, almost instinctive.
Under normal circumstances, this skill would be ideal. Given the sudden severe lack of passengers, however, pilots may be way off with their calculations.
Unless pilots aptly compensate for the distinct lack of passenger weight, airplanes take off with extreme speed from the ground. If lighter than expected, a plane can climb too rapidly. As a result, the following issues are becoming more common.
Tail of airplane hitting the runway and becoming damaged
Overshooting designated altitude
Getting too close to other aircrafts while compensating for aforementioned events
Additional time required to adjust to pre-planned takeoff procedures throws airplane way off course
These issues extend to landing as well.
Damaged airplane tails and potential mid-air collisions due to lightweight aircraft are both extremely dangerous. But the safety risks of decreased passenger population don’t end there.
Because airplanes have been out of operation for an extended amount of time, the following issues are being reported more often.
Runways are crowded with parked airplanes at major airports.
Traditional flight routines are being severely disrupted.
Pilot training procedures for different aircraft are not being kept up-to-date.
There are additional issues with cabin air pressure because the pressurization system in the plane couldn’t keep up with altitude climb.
Aircraft that have been inoperable may also have contaminated fuel, unbeknownst to pilots. This type of issue may have devastating results if not addressed before takeoff.
The FAA’s recent statements come with assurances that they are tracking issues with flying nearly-empty aircraft. If you feel there are issues not being addressed, be sure to leave an anonymous tip at the NASA reporting website here.