New tool maps future climate costs for airlines, passengers

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

When Phoenix temperatures topped 120 F in June 2017, American Airlines canceled dozens of flights at a local airport because the airplanes could not take off safely in the extreme heat. Scenarios like this are likely to become more common as a result of climate warming, scientists say, but the operational costs to airlines and passengers are largely unknown.

To fill this gap in knowledge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign industrial and enterprise systems engineering professor Lavanya Marla, her Ph.D. student Jane Lee and University of Michigan professor Parth Vaishnav built a mathematical model to calculate how much it will cost airlines to cope with rising temperatures. The model incorporated historical schedule and traffic data; present-day airport design; and airline fleet composition, scheduling and troubleshooting protocols. It used these data in conjunction with future climate projections to calculate the relative costs of different methods of responding to flight disruptions caused by higher temperatures in a warming climate.

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