Cheering 1st day of summer? Not in Phoenix when 120 expected

American Airlines canceled 50 flights to and from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport due to "extreme heat", the airline said.

The airline, however, doesn't expect flights in Charlotte to be affected, as the 120-degree heat should mostly influence smaller regional planes leaving Phoenix, American Airlines spokesperson Katie Cody said Monday. "The good news is this isn't a prolonged heat wave".

The previous record was set in June and July of 2013 with a 79.8 average temperature, according to the Associated Press.

High heat also means a plane climbs at a lower rate, said pilot Patrick Smith, author of the book "Cockpit Confidential".

The extreme temperatures cause changes in the density of the air, which makes it hard for planes to take off.

That's what officials were urging and residents were planning as a potentially record-shattering heat wave started enveloping the Southwest United States and threatened to bring temperatures of more than 120 degrees to parts of Arizona and California next week.

The cancellations so far are limited to shorter flights headed for places like Flagstaff, Yuma, and Tucson.

This isn't Phoenix's first brush with extreme heat, nor the first time soaring temperatures have led to flight cancellations.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. told NBC station KCRA of Sacramento that California was expected to threaten electricity use records by Thursday. And temperatures remained high even as night fell: at 9:30 p.m. Monday, temperatures were still topping 109 degrees Fahrenheit.

American Airlines issued on Sunday alerts to their travelers about the heat wave and advised them to change any flights scheduled to arrive or depart between 3 and 6 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

Phoenix hit 118 degrees on Monday.

High temperatures inhibit plane's ability to take off. When bracing for 120 degrees, it's all about the water.

The Fort Worth-based airline cancelled 50 flights Monday in and out of Phoenix and expected delays for at least seven flights to Sky Harbour on Tuesday, according to American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein.

So just how hot will it get? At the time, many airlines did not even have performance data for flights at that temperature, but have mostly updated their information for flights in the 122-plus range, he said.

It's so hot in the city on Tuesday, that American Airlines cancelled almost 50 flights, due to the heat exceeding the safety limits of some of their jets.

The main burn center in Phoenix warned people to be careful around auto interiors and pavement and with their pets.

  • Larry Hoffman