Heat is a significant factor in the IAF’s functionality in the summer months and its effects are wide spread and range from the physiological aspect to aircraft system functions. How does the blazing heat affect the IAF’s activity and what do we do in order to keep working despite it?
The IAF is required to work around the clock, at any hour and in any weather. In dark nights, rainy days or under the blazing sun, the force’s various divisions, including the flight divisions, the technical division and the support divisions, must be prepared for any missions.
The summer and the blazing heat that comes with it, are a danger for aircrews: the translucent canopy strengthens the sunrays and in low, high speed flight, the aircraft’s body temperature rises immensely and causes extremely high heat stress in the cockpit. Another of the heat’s effects is the ability to withstand G force, which can drop by 50 percent when exposed to extreme heat conditions.
As if all of this isn’t enough, the aircrew’s clothing, which includes a flight suit and G-suit, do not allow them to utilize their bodies’ most efficient biologic cooling system – sweat. “We have means to monitor the temperature and humidity and in the summer months we run a number of tests”, said Maj. Shlomi, Ouvda AFB Flight Squadron Deputy Commander.
The extreme heat also influences the ground crews’, who are responsible for maintaining the aircraft’s on the ground. “It can cause fatigue, dehydration and lack of concentration that may, in extreme conditions, cost human lives”, explained Lt. Col. Amir, Safety Officer of the Aircraft Department. “In order for our AFB’s to know how to act in high heat stress, we distribute organized instructions that regulate the work conditions. The option of adding additional instructions regarding ground crews is currently being reviewed”.
Besides affecting the human body, heat has other consequences: it affects the density of the air and by doing so, affects the performance of aircraft. “The hotter it is, the denser the air becomes, in turn, this hurts the engine’s performance and the aircraft’s aerodynamic performance, so the aircraft would need a much longer runway in order to take off”, explained Lt. Col. Amir. “Transport aircraft are most heavily affected by the heat, as a result of the heavy cargo they carry”.
The heat also causes the runways and lines to overheat, which, in turn, melt aircraft tired and over-heat and damage systems. Aircraft that are parked without a roof above them such as helicopters on the line, are susceptible to maximal damage. According to Lt. Col. Amir, in order to minimize the damage “We make sure to cover the canopies and windows in order to prevent the sunrays from hitting the cockpit directly, but there is still a chance that the extreme heat will damage the systems”.
Transport aircraft are most heavily affected by the heat, as a result of the heavy cargo they carry | Archive Photo