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Heat waves associated with rising global temperatures may soon make air travel more difficult.

When air warms, its density drops, affecting how much lift the air can generate as it rushes across a plane’s wings. More lift means a plane needs a longer runway in order to safely ascend into the sky.

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Lack of a long enough runway could lead to flight delays and cancellations when the weather gets too hot. That happened last month in Phoenix, where temperatures hit 120 degrees. Many aircraft, such as the ones operated by American Airlines, can operate at a maximum temperatures of 118 degrees.


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