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Knowledge of Flight Delay

Weather factors

Weather factors include a variety of situations. For example: the weather conditions at the departing city may not be suitable for taking off, the weather conditions at the destination may not be suitable for landing, or the weather conditions along the route may not be suitable for flying.

There are many weather criteria to consider when flying, taking off, and landing to ensure flight safety. The following are some of the weather conditions that might impact a flight:

- Departure airport weather conditions (visibility, low altitude clouds, thunderstorms, and strong crosswinds)

- Destination airport weather conditions (visibility, low altitude clouds, thunderstorms, and strong crosswinds)

- Weather conditions along the route (high altitude thunderstorms)

- Flight crew conditions (technical level, analyzing the current meteorology and trends to make professional decisions)

- Aircraft conditions (some airborne devices may fail even if the aircraft complies with the meteorological criteria and meets safety requirements)

- Resultant conditions due to inclement weather (for example, airport navigation facilities may be damaged or a runway may be frozen or flooded)

Air traffic control factors

Like cars that drive on the ground, civil aviation aircraft are restricted by many factors in the air. In short, civil aviation aircraft take off, land, and fly in limited space and time and under limited conditions.

Question 1: When all passengers have boarded, the door is closed, and everything appears ready, why have we not taken off?

Answer: You are likely experiencing a situation impacted by air traffic control measures. At this time, the plane is queuing. Generally, the crew should explain to passengers that there is an air traffic control related delay. The plane is waiting for the take-off command. Other planes may be able to take off because their destinations and directions are different.

Question 2: The plane is ready and taxies intermittently. Why doesn’t the plane take off?

Answer: The plane maybe ready to take off, but the runway space is limited. At this time, there may be many planes landing and taking off. Planes enter the runway in sequence at safe intervals. In a busy airport or during peak hours of a non-busy airport, both air traffic and ground traffic may become overloaded. It is normal that the outbound planes must taxi or even wait for a long time to take off.

Question 3: If there is a traffic control related delay, why not ask us to board the plane later? Why do we need to stay in the cabin for such a long time?

Answer: Air traffic control related delays are common. Generally, the waiting time is not long. However, there may be a lot of flights heading in the same direction, affected by the same air traffic control situation. If your flight is ready, the crew will request to take off. The waiting time will be shorter if the request is made earlier. The reason is the same as waiting in line to pay. If the waiting time is extra long, your flight may be encountering an unusual traffic control related delay! If the traffic control related delay is caused by unstated reasons and there is no estimated time for takeoff, the plane must still be prepared for takeoff as scheduled. The airspace may open at any time.

Question 4: After a long time waiting, we were notified that the plane cannot take off and we had to get off the plane and wait in the departure lounge. The plane even went back to the terminal after taxing on the runway. Why?

Answer: Generally, the length of traffic control related delays can be estimated and the crew will decide whether to ask passengers to wait on the plane or in the terminal. However, as mentioned above, there is sometimes no estimated time for the air traffic control related delay and the flight restrictions may be lifted at any time. The airspace may only remain open for a short time, which requires the plane to be ready for takeoff. If it is estimated that waiting time will be too long and the takeoff time is unclear, in order to ensure passengers' comfort, the crew may ask passengers to get off the plane and wait in the terminal. Such situations are constantly changing. If some unexpected situations in the air or at the destination airport occur, the plane may need to return even if it has taxied for a while.

Passengers should pay attention to the following key points if the plane is delayed due to air traffic control:

The crew is also anxious to take off, just like you, but there is normally nothing that can be done to change the situation, so both passengers and crew need to be patient. You can trust the crew when they tell you what they know about the expected time to take off.