PILOTS are pros when it comes to flying a plane, even in difficult weather.
But there is one type of thunderstorm that they hate the most – as it can cause the most crashes.
Andrew Ward, who used to work as a meteorologist for the Met Office at Heathrow, explained why this is.
He told Sun Online Travel: “Thunderstorms are the most dangerous types of weather for planes to fly in, they can cause multiple hazards and can reach heights of 35,000 feet, which is cruising level for a plane – so they are very difficult to fly though.
“Although pilots are able to fly through them, they try to avoid it. They can be up to 12 miles wide or more – very large areas – and they can also cause severe turbulence, so whenever possible a pilot will reroute.”
In severe cases – the type considered a real danger to pilots – Andrew reveals that a plane could crash as a result of a thunderstorm, due to something called a “microburst”.
He told us: “A microburst is sudden downward current of wind that can travel down from the top of a thunderstorm in a matter of minutes, creating really strong winds of over 50 miles per hour, which cannot be seen.
"Planes flying close to a thunderstorm can be suddenly struck by them, causing them to crash."
“This is more likely to happen in places like the US where everything is bigger and better, but it can also happen in the UK on a smaller scale.
“They have occurred – and this is a reason for staying away, it’s those hidden hazards that come with thunderstorms.”
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Eastern Airlines flight 66 crashed as a result of a microburst in 1975, as did Delta Airlines flight 191 in 1985, although weather forecasting systems are much more accurate these days.
Even though they prefer not to, Andrew revealed that sometimes a plane will have to fly through a thunderstorm – due to restraints with air traffic control.
He said: “Sometimes a pilot will have to navigate through a thunderstorm.
“If there’s not enough space, then they will have to fly through, but aircraft are built to withstand storms as well as lightning.
"However, pilots would much rather fly around the storms if they can."
Andrew revealed that it’s down to airports and airlines whether planes fly or not though.
He said: “Ultimately, whether a plane flies or not is down to the pilot’s discretion.
“There are hardly any weather types that planes can’t fly in now. All aircrafts these days can take off and land in fog, for example.”
Another pilot has revealed what really happens in their cockpit when a storm prevents a plane from landing.
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