Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsWeather · 10 years ago

Can pilots fly in bad weather?

And why not?

3 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Best Answer

    Pilots fly in what we call VFR (Visiual Flight Rules), MVFR (Marginal Visual Flight Rules) and IFR (Instrument Flight Rules). Those conditions are specified.

    Source(s): Meteorologist Mike Scott
  • 10 years ago

    I own and fly a light aircraft under the VFR (visual Flight Reference) rule. I cannot fly in "bad weather" because a) I am not certified as a IFR (instrument Flight Reference) pilot and my aircraft is not certified as an IFR one.

    The latter requires several things among which: double set of instruments and, gyroscopic position indicators such as turn coordinators, artificial horizon, etc.

    The reason is this one: As an aircraft comes into bad visibility (e.g. in a cloud) and looses visual contact with the ground, he has no reference to the horizon. Because a pilot always try to fly coordinated, i.e. with the center of gravity in the middle, as the aircraft turns, the only feeling will be that gravitation increases. For example, an aircraft banking at 60 degrees endures 2 Gs (twice the weight). But there is no way to tell in which direction the aircraft turns and, therefore, no way to know how to correct it. The result is a spin where the aircraft falls like a leaf, often all the way to the ground.

    The only way to avoid that is to have a gyroscopic instrument that tells, from the variation of heading, in which direction the aircraft turns. I have such an instrument, just in case I should come by accident in what we call IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions). While I have trained on a flight simulator to fly only with that simple instrument in no visibility, I know that, in real life, I have only a few minutes, if not seconds, to come out of that situation because concentration gets very bad under stress.

    But your question, perphaps, addresses the risks of flying big airplanes in turbulent weather. Well, it is uncomfortable for the passengers and, because of that, airliners try to avoid, as much as possible, bad weather, by flying over or under it. But there is no real danger if the pilot reduces speed to what is known as Va or, manoeuvre speed.

    It works like this: In a strong turbulence, the plane gets a load on the wings that are built to resist to a certain point; say, 5 Gs (5 times the actual weight). But the point at which an aircraft stalls (fall off) is proportional to the load because proportional to the angle of attack of the wing. If you fly under that speed, a very strong turbulence will make the plane to stall before the load comes over the breaking load. A stalling aircraft actually falls off the sky but while scary, it is not dangerous if there is enough space under. It eventually comes out of it. I practice stalls nearly every time I fly. It is not dangerous and it is good to know when it happens to be able to prevent it.

    You certainly remember the Air France aircraft that crashed in the mid Atlantic a couple of years ago. We suspect that the cause was one of those very powerful thunderstorms found around the equator. But why didn't the pilot reduced speed to Va then? Well, if you remember correctly, the aircraft had problems with its speed indicator and while we will never know for sure (the black box was never found) this is certainly the cause of an excess of speed and the resulting destruction of the wings in extreme turbulence.

  • 10 years ago

    they will chose that... if its just light rain then yes but the main thing that effects the plane is wind and snow because the frozen crystals weigh down the plane and wind is just obvious... but if you are already in the air the pilot might have to go through it.

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