Analyses of Flight Time During Solar Proton Events and Solar Flares

X. H. Xu, Y. Wang, F. S. Wei, X. S. Feng, M. H. Bo, H. W. Tang, D. S. Wang, B. Lei, B. Y. Wang, P. B. Zuo, C. W. Jiang, X. J. Xu, Z. L. Zhou, Z. Li, P. Zou, L. D. Wang, Y. X. Gu, Y. L. Chen, W. Y. Zhang, P. Sun

Submitted on 15 September 2022


Analyzing the effects of space weather on aviation is a new and developing topic. It has been commonly accepted that the flight time of the polar flights may increase during solar proton events because the flights have to change their route to avoid the high-energy particles. However, apart from such phenomenon, researches related to the flight time during space weather events is very rare. Based on the analyses of 39 representative international air routes around westerlies, it is found that 97.44% (94.87%) of the commercial airplanes on the westbound (eastbound) air routes reveal shorter (longer) flight time during solar proton events compared to those during quiet periods, and the averaged magnitude of change in flight time is ~10 min or 0.21%-4.17% of the total flight durations. Comparative investigations reassure the certainty of such phenomenon that the directional differences in flight time are still incontrovertible regardless of over-land routes (China-Europe) or over-sea routes (China-Western America). Further analyses suggest that the solar proton events associated atmospheric heating will change the flight durations by weakening certain atmospheric circulations, such as the polar jet stream. While the polar jet stream will not be obviously altered during solar flares so that the directional differences in flight time are not found. Besides the conventional space weather effects already known, this paper is the first report that indicates a distinct new scenario of how the solar proton events affect flight time. These analyses are also important for aviation since our discoveries could help the airways optimize the air routes to save passenger time costs, reduce fuel costs and even contribute to the global warming issues.


Comment: submitted to Scientific Reports

Subjects: Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics; Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena; Physics - Space Physics