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航班取消了?可能是炎热天气惹的祸

更新时间:2017-6-22 18:45:36 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Too Hot to Fly? Climate Change May Take a Toll on Air Travel
航班取消了?可能是炎热天气惹的祸

In recent days, American Airlines has been forced to cancel more than 40 flights in Phoenix. The reason: With daytime highs hovering around 120 degrees, it was simply too hot for some smaller jets to take off. Hotter air is thinner air, which makes it more difficult — and sometimes impossible — for planes to generate enough lift.

最近几天,美国航空公司(American Airlines)被迫取消了菲尼克斯的40多个航班。原因是:白天的最高气温徘徊在120华氏度(约49摄氏度)左右,有些小型飞机因为太热无法起飞。空气越热就越稀薄,导致飞机更难——有时是不可能——产生足够的升力。

As the global climate changes, disruptions like these are likely to become more frequent, researchers say, potentially making air travel costlier and less predictable with a greater risk of injury to travelers from increased turbulence.

研究人员表示,由于全球气候变化,类似的服务中断很可能会变得更频繁,可能会使空中旅行更加昂贵,更不可预测,不断增多的颠簸会给乘客带来更大的受伤风险。

“We tend to ignore the atmosphere and just think that the plane is flying through empty space, but of course, it’s not,” said Paul D. Williams, a professor in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading in Britain who studies climate change and its effect on aviation. “Airplanes do not fly through a vacuum. The atmosphere is being modified by climate change.”

“我们往往忽视大气,认为飞机是在空的空间里飞行,实际情况当然不是这样的,”英国雷丁大学(University of Reading)气象学系教授保罗·D·威廉姆斯(Paul D. Williams)说。他专门研究气候变化及其对飞行的影响。“飞机不是在真空中飞行。而大气层正在被气候变化所改变。”

The problem in Phoenix primarily affected smaller jets operated by American’s regional partner airlines. “When you get in excess of 118 or higher, you’re not able to take off or land,” said Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for American Airlines, referring to the smaller aircraft.

菲尼克斯的问题主要影响了美国的区域性合作航空公司运营的小型飞机。“如果气温超过118华氏度,飞机就无法起飞或降落,”美国航空公司的发言人罗斯·范斯坦(Ross Feinstein)说。他指的是小型飞机。

Bigger jets like Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s have higher operating thresholds (126 and 127 degrees, respectively), he said. All three of those maximum temperatures are specific to the Phoenix airport; aircraft have different maximum operating temperatures depending on a variety of factors, including airport elevation.

他说,波音737s和空客A320s等大型飞机的运行门槛更高(分别是126和127华氏度)。这三个最高温度都是仅针对菲尼克斯机场而言的。飞机的最高运行温度取决于很多因素,包括机场海拔。

But even though bigger planes weren’t affected, he said, American decided to give passengers on any flight to or from Phoenix the option to change their trips.

不过他说,尽管大型飞机不受影响,美国航空公司还是决定给予搭乘任何航班前往或离开菲尼克斯的乘客更改行程的权利。

Overall, that means more than 350 flights were potentially affected by the hot weather in Phoenix.

总体来说,那意味着超过350个航班可能受到了菲尼克斯炎热天气的影响。

Robert Mann, the president of airline industry analysis firm R.W. Mann & Co., said that although airlines were working to become more efficient now, they were not doing much to prepare for the longer-term effects of climate change.

从事民航产业分析的R·W·曼公司(R.W. Mann & Co.)的总裁罗伯特·曼(Robert Mann)表示,虽然现在航空公司正努力提高效率,但他们并没有为气候变化的更长期影响做很多准备。

“In a world where they’re focused on near-term issues, the glacial rate of environmental change is not within their fleet-planning horizon,” he said.

“他们把注意力放在较近的问题上,环境变化的缓慢速度不在他们规划航班的视野范围内,”他说。

Feinstein of American Airlines referred questions about the effect of climate change on flying to an industry trade group, Airlines for America. The trade group provided its Earth Day statement describing its members’ efforts to become more environmentally friendly by using more fuel-efficient engines and modifying planes to be more aerodynamic.

美国航空公司的范斯坦把关于气候变化对飞行影响的问题推给了行会组织美国航空运输协会(Airlines for America)。该组织展示了自己的地球日声明,称其成员正在努力对环境更友好,使用燃油效率更高的发动机,并改造飞机,使其更符合空气动力学。

Aviation is a major producer of carbon dioxide, responsible for about 2 percent of human-made emissions each year.

航空业是二氧化碳的主要制造者,每年人为排放量的约2%来自该行业。

Researchers are just beginning to explore how climate change affects aviation and planes’ ability to fly. Because there is so little data available and so many factors at play — aircraft design, airport size and location, the weight of passengers and cargo, to name just a few — it can be hard to attribute any one service disruption to global warming.

研究人员刚开始探索气候变化如何影响航空业以及飞机的飞行能力。由于数据很少,牵扯到很多因素——飞机的设计、机场大小和位置、乘客和货物的重量等——很难把任何服务中断都归因于全球变暖。

Depending on their locations, airports may experience the effects differently. High-altitude airports like Denver have thinner air by nature, so lift is even more affected by higher temperatures.

由于地理位置不同,不同的机场受到的影响也可能各不相同。丹佛机场等高海拔机场本身空气就比较稀薄,所以更高的温度对那里飞机起飞的影响更大。

La Guardia Airport in New York could also be affected, even though it is at sea level. La Guardia has a short runway relative to other major commercial airports, and on particularly hot days that can be a problem: Planes might not have enough distance to achieve the speed and lift needed to get airborne.

纽约的拉瓜迪亚机场(La Guardia)也可能会受到影响,尽管它的海拔几乎为零。与其他主要的商业机场相比,拉瓜迪亚机场的跑道较短,在特别炎热的日子里,那可能会是一个问题:飞机可能没有足够的距离起跑,以达到升空所需的速度和升力。

“Typically in the hotter days of the summer, you may have to bump payload, which includes cargo and/or passengers,” said David Wilhelm, a senior dispatch manager at Southwest Airlines. Reducing weight allows a plane to take off with less lift.

“通常,在夏季比较炎热的日子里,你可能必须降低载量,包括货物和/或乘客,”西南航空公司(Southwest Airlines)的高级调度经理戴维·威廉(David Wilhelm)说。减轻重量能让一架飞机以更低的升力起飞。

La Guardia, because of its short runway, already forces many planes to reduce their weight, regardless of the weather. A Boeing 737, for example, has to cut its maximum payload by 1,000 pounds for a successful departure. That restriction increases on hotter days, up to 15,000 pounds when the temperature hits 91.4 degrees.

由于跑道较短,拉瓜迪亚机场已经迫使很多飞机减轻重量——不管天气情况如何。比如,波音737要想成功起飞,必须将最大载量减少1000磅。天气越热,限制越多,气温达到91.4华氏度时,需要减轻的重量提高至1.5万磅。

Restrictions like these are determined by individual airports and airlines, and not by a standardized industry regulation. American Airlines consults National Weather Service data and plugs it into a formula to calculate air density to determine if conditions at a given airport are suitable for takeoffs and landings.

此类限制由各机场和航空公司决定,而不是根据标准化的行业规定。美国航空公司把国家气象局(National Weather Service)的数据输入一个公式,算出空气密度,以决定某个机场的气象条件是否适合起飞和降落。

In 2015, Radley Horton, a research scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, published a joint study with a Ph.D. student, Ethan Coffel, on the effect of extreme heat on aviation. The conclusion: “We can say with confidence that there will be more weight-restricted days, and larger weight restrictions,” he said.

2015年,哥伦比亚大学(Columbia University)地球研究所(Earth Institute)的研究科学家拉德利·霍顿(Radley Horton)与博士研究生伊桑·科菲尔(Ethan Coffel)联合发表了一项关于极端高温对飞行的影响的研究。结论是:“我们可以胸有成竹地说,以后会出现更多限制重量的日子,而且对重量的限制力度也会更大。”

Already, since the 1980s, airports have seen an increasing number of weight-restricted summer days, their research found.

他们的研究发现,从20世纪80年代起,机场在夏季限制重量的日子越来越多。

“One thing that’s become abundantly clear,” Horton added, “is this is an underexplored area.”

“有一件事已经变得非常明显,”霍顿还说,“那就是,人们对这个领域的探索还不够。”

The study examined conditions at four airports: La Guardia; Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which also has relatively shorter runways; Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport; and Denver International Airport. Some airports, like Denver, could counteract rising temperatures by extending their runways. That option is less workable for a location like La Guardia, however, as it is hemmed in by New York City on one side and the East River on the other.

这项研究调查了四个机场的情况:拉瓜迪亚机场;华盛顿罗纳德·里根国家机场(Ronald Reagan National Airport),它的跑道也相对较短;菲尼克斯天港国际机场(Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport);以及丹佛国际机场。有些机场,比如丹佛国际机场,可以通过延长跑道对抗温度的上升。不过,这个方法在拉瓜迪亚这样的机场行不通,因为它的一边是纽约市,另一边是东河,已被团团围住。

As global temperatures continue to rise, some of the heaviest planes on the longest flights may eventually be unable to depart during the hottest part of summer days, Horton said. Like an ocean liner waiting for the right tide to leave port, airplanes may be grounded until the air is cool and dense enough for takeoff at full capacity.

霍顿表示,随着全球气温继续上升,在夏季最炎热的日子里,最远程航班的一些最重的飞机可能最终无法起飞。就像远洋客轮要等合适的潮汐离港一样,飞机也可能被困在地上,直到空气变凉,密度变大,足以让飞机在最大载量下起飞。

He also pointed out that a no-fly window of even a few hours at a particular airport could have a ripple effect across airline operations while further squeezing airlines’ already tight profit margins.

他还指出,在某个机场哪怕停飞数小时,都会对航空公司的运营产生连锁反应,进一步压缩航空公司本已非常有限的盈利空间。

With forecasts predicting record-breaking temperatures in Phoenix on Tuesday — and some flights being canceled pre-emptively — many passengers stayed away from the airport entirely. Security lines had almost no wait. The terminals were so empty, one traveler was spotted riding his bike through the airport.

周二,天气预报预测菲尼克斯会出现破纪录的高温,有些航班已经提前取消了,很多乘客彻底离开了机场。安检线上几乎没人在等待。航站楼里空荡荡的,人们甚至看见一名旅行者骑着自行车穿过机场。

Allison Thomas, a 28-year-old college student, said she had endured three flight cancellations as she tried to return home to Seattle.

28岁的大学生艾莉森·托马斯(Allison Thomas)表示,她想返回西雅图的家,她已经忍受了三次航班取消。

“I’m so tired!” she said, but added that she felt lucky that she had family in town. “Other people had to go to hotels.”

“我累死了!”她说。不过她说自己还算幸运,在城里有个家。“其他人只能去住酒店。”

After her third cancellation, Thomas finally gave up. She decided to drive to San Diego to try to catch a flight there — despite the risk that planes might not take off there, either.

第三次取消后,托马斯最终放弃了。她决定开车前往圣迭戈,想在那里赶上一个航班——尽管那里的飞机也有可能无法起飞。

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