August 2004 - Well here comes summer once again. If you are based east of the Mississippi, that means high temperatures and low flight visibilities, thunderstorms and high density altitudes. Here in sunny South Florida flight vis doesn't get too bad, but temperatures on the runway can exceed 140 degrees F.
The effects on aircraft performance in high temperature situations are the result of density altitude. Some aircraft are actually prohibited from operating in these high temperatures. Some of those limitations are based on the fact that there is no performance data for pilots to plan from. The Citation I recently typed in is prohibited from takeoff in temperatures above 39 degrees C ISA.
By definition, density altitude is the measure of air density. Do not confuse it with pressure altitude, true altitude or absolute altitude. It is not to be used as a height reference, but as a determining criteria for the performance of an aircraft.
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