From the Flight Deck with Captain Doug: Is it ever too cold to fly?
Jan 01, 2020

Airliners are built for cold temperatures (it’s -57°C at cruising altitude) and aviators welcome the denser air that comes with extreme cold. Frigid air at -40°C is about one third more dense than hot air at +40°C.

Cold air produces more lift over the wings and flight controls, and more thrust from the engines and propellers. Pilots say that an aircraft in cold air climbs “like a homesick angel.”

Extreme cold poses challenges on the ground, but we are Canadian cold experts. To start a jet engine requires oil temperatures above -40°C, so engines are preheated.

Keeping machinery warm, promptly connecting warm cabin air, having hot-air heaters nearby and wearing extra layers of clothes are all part of doing business in the Canadian winter.

Even when the mercury plummets, our goal remains to get you to your destination safely and expeditiously.