DFW Airport Affected By Heat | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Complete coverage of Texas' record heat wave of 2011

DFW Airport Affected By Heat

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    People at the airport are feeling the heat just as much as others across the Metroplex.

    Planes have more trouble getting off the ground in extreme heat so pilots may need to compensate. 

    “It makes a big difference because the engines don’t produce as much power at the high temperatures as they do at lower temperatures,” said former airline pilot and aviation safety expert Denny Kelly. 

    “It can restrict your takeoff weight and consequently you have to reduce either passenger load or cargo,” he continued.

    American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has extremely long runways that give pilots extra distance to get off the ground.

    The runways are shorter at Dallas Love Field where Southwest Airlines flies.

    But Southwest Airlines spokesman Chris Mainz said most Southwest planes are the next generation 737-700 series with more power to handle hot weather situations.

    The representatives of both airlines said pilots take heat into consideration on every flight calculation and there has been little effect from the current North Texas heat wave, but there have been problems at some higher altitude cities due to the heat.

    DFW Airport officials have noticed an increase in parked cars with dead batteries because of the heat.

    “It drains the battery so even when they didn’t leave anything on, it drains their battery with the heat,” said customer service representative Juan Ponce.

    He keeps battery-jumping equipment ready as he patrols the DFW Airport parking garages.

    An improved thermal energy storage system installed several years ago is helping DFW reduce air conditioning expenses, according to Rusty Hodapp, Vice President for Energy and Transportation Management.

    “What we do is generate if you will, the cooling affect at night, and then utilize it during the day,” he said.

    A new $6 million gallon storage tank between terminals B and C holds water cooled to 36 degrees overnight for later use during peak afternoon hours.

    Hodapp said the airport investment in the tank has already been recouped in electric bill savings.

    “We obviously pay for the amount of energy that we use, but we pay a lower rate by virtue of when we use the energy and that technology has saved us roughly about half a million dollars a year,” Hodapp said.

    The system provides cooling for $6 million square feet of hotel and terminal space at DFW but also allows for a drastic reduction in energy consumption during the hours when the Texas electric grid has been struggling to meet demand.

    “That takes as much as 18 megawatts off the grid at that time.”

    Hodapp said it’s enough to power up to 18,000 single-family homes an hour.