Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research





Key words

Density Altitude, Aviation, Climatology


Density altitude (DA) plays a key role in flight safety because it helps pilots anticipate poor aircraft performance when temperatures are warmer than standard. In this study, a 30-year climatology of DA for the conterminous United States was created using the fifth-generation European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts atmospheric reanalysis of the global climate (ERA5) dataset was applied to four separate DA-based, aircraft-performance, rules-of-thumb for general aviation (GA) flight. The goal was to demonstrate a technique to create educational visualization tools showing the variation of operational flight impacts with both month and location. Four such parameters were chosen to show the technique's utility: take-off distance, landing distance, climb rate, and engine power, all of which were expressed as multipliers to be applied to the standard altitude values. The study provided results based on the 30-year (1991-2020) July mean DA values as well as those based on the maximum daily values (worst case) at each grid point occurring during the months of June, July, and August during the same period. Results showed performance parameters tended to have the most variation in the east-west direction following terrain rather than the north-south direction following the solar insolation.



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