You can’t taste it, smell it or see it, but it can change your travel plans extremely, leaving you frustrated at an airport or unpleasantly rocking in an aircraft. The wind is one of the key flight disruption reasons and, according to EUROCONTROL, weather is consistently responsible for a third of all air traffic management delays in Europe. On the 15th of June, Global Wind Day is being celebrated worldwide, so Skycop asks aviation experts how this natural element affects flying. “Wind may seem worrying, but thunder, icing, and turbulence are way more dangerous for aircraft. Wind helps you travel cheaper and faster,” said Gediminas Pupsys, head of Area Control Center at Lithuanian air navigation service provider ‘Oro navigacija’.
Bought cheap tickets? Thank wind for that
Wind might be called the essence of aviation, but what real impact does it have? Mr. Pupsys reveals that the winds are very important. They are taken into consideration in flight planning and rarely cause accidents. However, they shouldn’t be treated lightly.
“There are two types of effects. Winds mostly impact flying in high skies and when an aircraft is landing. In the latter case, a microburst might occur. It can be particularly dangerous to an aircraft, especially during the landing, due to the wind shear caused by its gust front. And in the high skies, we all know how turbulence might shake a plane – this sudden change of airflow can be caused by a number of factors, including wind,” Mr. Pupsys explained.
But landing into the wind has advantages, too. An aircraft uses less runway, the touch down is softer while ground speed is lower. It is known that pilots prefer to land and take off in headwind, which blows towards the plane. These winds increase the lift, lower ground speed, and a shorter run is needed for the aircraft to become airborne.
“Wind also affects flying in an economic way. Airlines’ routes are based on weather conditions and the wind plays a major role in it. If the plane flies against the wind, a higher amount of fuel is used and it may arrive later. On the other hand, tailwinds make travel faster and save both time and money,” added the aviation expert.
The flight was disrupted by the wind? Blow it over
Winds are commonly classified by their spatial scale, their speed, the types of forces that cause them, the regions in which they occur, and their effect. But the wind speed and direction are the key features for air traffic navigators.
“The wind direction is measured by degrees and the speed by knots. That’s the most important thing for us. So if you want to know whether the wind is a pilot’s friend or foe, well, it depends. Tailwinds and headwinds have their own advantages and disadvantages,” Mr. Pupsys said.
The aviation expert consoled regular air travelers: they don’t have to worry about the wind so much. Despite the fact that difficult wind conditions are mentioned in a number of aviation accidents, strong winds do not cause them single-handedly. Usually, other risk factors occur – wind-related accidents have significantly declined over the years.
But if you were told that your flight was delayed or cancelled due to weather conditions and that these circumstances make the disruption not eligible for compensation according to Regulation (EC) 261/2004, that might not always be true. Airlines often play this card to try and divert responsibility. Just submit your claim to Skycop and turn your disrupted flight into a compensation up to €600.