Aviation Industry: Implications Of Weather Hazards

The aviation industry faces continuous constraints by weather hazards that impact the safety and efficiency of aircrafts individually and the National Airspace System (NAS) overall (Trask & Avilés, 2017). Such weather conditions as wind, visibility issues, in-flight icing, and turbulence occur commonly, leading to an increased number of aviation accidents, traffic delays, and closures related to safety (FAA, no date). The implications of in-flight icing hazards include but are not limited to control difficulties, limited visibility, and problems with communication (National Weather Service, no date). In severe turbulence, an aircraft may experience abrupt altitude and attitude changes, temporary control loss, and passenger injuries in the cabin (Frangoul, 2017). In cases of fog and low visibility, schedules are affected significantly, causing delays due to issues that may occur during take-off (Rodríguez-Sanz et al., 2022). The implications of strong surface winds are particularly threatening because they cause disruptions in control close to the terrain, making its recovery more difficult (Eurocontrol, 2013).

All of the above-mentioned weather hazards result in both in-flight or pre-flight disruptions, which, consequently, may contribute to a higher frequency of delays if weather conditions continue deteriorating (Eurocontrol, 2013). In the aviation industry, delays directly translate into costs for both operators and passengers, which also includes uncertain times and the need to adjust the travel schedule that accounts for potential disruptions. Based on the available data, the direct cost of US passenger air transport delays amounts to around US $28 billion a year, of which around US $16 billion is borne by passengers (Borsky & Unterberg, 2019). In general, there is an overall consensus among aviation researchers who studied empirical evidence that individuals, both those in the industry and passengers, prefer avoiding delays because they lead to additional costs in the end. It has been estimated that passengers are willing to pay US $1.56 per minute to prevent a delay (Borsky & Unterberg, 2019).

The air traffic sector is among the ones that are regularly affected by delays – between 2004 and 2017, 22% of airline flights in the US only were delayed or canceled, which makes up around a fifth of total flights being carried out (Bureau of Transport Statistics, 2018). The issue with delays linked to adverse weather conditions is that they can either be predictable or unpredictable. Specifically, the slow onset of weather events can gradually develop in the course of a day, which means that the risks can be predicted and prevented, with delays not being as significant. However, in cases when adverse weather conditions represent emergencies because of their sudden onset, the causal impact on departure and arrival delays can be more meaningful (Borsky & Unterberg, 2019).

Therefore, quantifying the impact of weather is among the critical steps toward improvement of the decision-making process aimed at enhancing airport performance (Rodríguez-Sanz et al., 2022). This will enable operators to identify relevant weather information and help them decide on the appropriate mitigation practices to address adverse weather events. Considerations of intense awareness of the weather conditions are crucial for increasing the precision and accuracy of aircraft tracking for improving traffic flow management and making delays less impactful. This approach entails the allocation of resources for aircraft performance improvement in severe weather conditions at hub airports, which is more promising rather than implementing congestion pricing to contain delays in flights.


Borsky, S., & Unterberg, C. (2019). Bad weather and flight delays: The impact of sudden and slow onset weather events. Economics of Transportation, 18, 10-26.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics. (2018). On-time performance – Reporting operating carrier flight delays at a glance. Web.

Eurocontrol. (2013). Severe weather risk management survey final report. Web.

FAA. (n.d.). Section 6. Potential flight hazards. Web.

Frangoul, A. (2017). Climate change will increase the risk of severe turbulence on planes, research says. CNBC. Web.

National Weather Service. (n.d.). Icing. Web.

Rodríguez-Sanz, Á., Cano, J., & Fernández, B. R. (2021). Impact of weather conditions on airport arrival delay and throughput. Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, 94(1), 60-78.

Trask, T., & Avilés, L. (2017). A study of aviation weather hazards. Web.