Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

ASI Safety Notice: 2018-1

Density Altitude

Safety Notice Striped Banner Bar
Zoomed image

The Issue:

Flights crossing mountains and high terrain, and into high-elevation airports, are subject to high density altitudes, gusty crosswinds, and mountain wave turbulence. Especially on hot days, an airplane's performance can be dramatically reduced causing longer takeoff rolls, longer landing distances, and reduced climb rates. Regardless your experience level, take a moment to review how you can prepare and avoid being caught off guard by elements associated with high density altitude flying.

What You Should Do:

  • Review operational considerations and hazards of density altitude and how to mitigate them with ASI's Density Altitude—The Triple H Effect safety video above
  • Test your knowledge with ASI's Density Altitude safety quiz
  • Review important safety procedures in ASI's Mountain Flying safety spotlight
  • Plan to fly before noon or in the early evening daylight hours to avoid midday heat, which often creates strong crosswinds and turbulence
  • For night flights, study the route carefully with emphasis on surrounding terrain, maximum elevation figures, and required climb profiles
  • Refresh crosswind landing procedures and limitations for your airplane
  • Double check the weight and balance for both your arriving and departing flights—carefully consider any refueling at en route stops
  • If you are new to flying in the mountains, consider flying with a pilot experienced in operating in high mountainous environments.

To increase safety awareness and help reduce accidents, the AOPA Air Safety Institute periodically issues Safety Notices to remind pilots of significant safety topics.