By a large percentage, the most significant cause of flight delays across the U.S. National Airspace System is the weather. According to the FAA, almost 70% of all delays of more than 15 minutes are caused by adverse weather conditions.
What is true for the major airlines is also true for all other types of flights, including small airplanes flown by private pilots and for people engaging in private jet travel. However, it is interesting to note that private jets have considerable advantages in dealing with dangerous weather.
Weather and Private Jets
Private jets enjoy unique capabilities for working around bad weather. Even though dangerous weather can ground any flight, private jets more often “slip under the radar,” if you’ll pardon a pun. Some of the main weather conditions that affect private jets are as follows.
A lot of what this gets down to is an issue of visibility. Good visibility is critical for safe takeoffs and landings. There must be sufficient airflow to clear water from the windshield to afford the pilot visibility. Private jets have an advantage here because they deploy wipers, windshield coating and high-pressure air systems that clear water from windshields and create better visibility for safe takeoffs and landings.
Snow and Ice
Although all aircraft are designed to withstand freezing temperatures and significant amounts of snow and ice precipitation, additional caution is warranted when these weather events are present. A key factor is clearing runways from snow and ice.
Private jets fare better in these situations because they are more easily redirected to alternate landing sites that are less impacted by snow.
Note that all aircraft are required to de-ice in the build-up of snow and ice reaches a certain level. Ice clinging to a jet increases its weight, reduces lift, and increases drag. The problem for the big jets is that de-icing is time-consuming. Here, private jets have an advantage because they are much smaller and have less surface area to clear.
Just about everyone who has flown has experienced the bumpy ride caused by air turbulence. This is caused by wind direction and the speed of the wind. This is one case where big commercial airliners have an edge.
Private jets are more susceptible to turbulence because they are smaller and easier for rough air to toss around.
Once again, however, private jets have better options. Thanks to their higher cruise altitude and ability to climb higher faster, they can soar above to higher altitudes swiftly where winds are calmer. That means they spend less time in turbulent air.
In general, private jets use higher cruising altitudes than commercial carriers. Private jets often fly at 50,000 feet compared to the average of 39,000 feet favored by most commercial airliners. Because of this, the big jets often “get stuck” in turbulence. This is not so for private jets, as they just “fly out of it.”
For the most part, sunny conditions are optimal for flying. Private jets can fly safely even at very high temperatures – up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit (52C).
A spokesperson with a Naples private jet charter said a critical element of air temperature involves the air’s relative “thinness” or “thickness”. Hot air is thinner. When the air gets very hot, it can adversely affect the jet’s engine performance. Essentially, the power of the engine is reduced.
Furthermore, high air temperature plays a role in aerodynamic capability. Both climbing performance and maximum payload are reduced because the air can be too thin when it gets very hot. To compensate, pilots deploy a higher thrust engine setting.
The main issue with fog is poor visibility. No aircraft of any size can take off when visibility is minimal. Fog is mostly a problem with the takeoff portion of the flight.
Flying by private jet when fog is a factor is far safer than flying commercial. Private jets can more easily be redirected away from the fog. Even more significant, however, is that all types of airplanes and jets are well-adapted to deal with foggy conditions.
Professional pilots are highly trained and must obtain their “instrument rating.” What that basically means is that they can fly and land a plane using only the plane’s sensing instruments while not relying on normal physical eyesight.
Like all carriers, private jet providers take weather conditions seriously. Over decades of experience with flight, the aviation industry has developed high standards and efficient methodologies for handling what mother nature hands out on any given day.