Can a Plane Fly Through a Hurricane?

Still not sure that you think the airplane can withstand the worst turbulence?  Well, it’s hard to imagine any more turbulent of air than that of a hurricane. When these storms make landfall they have been known to tear apart houses and buildings in addition to flinging cars and boats through the air. They are truly one of the most destructive forces of nature and one that people should take very seriously!

(Turbulence Part II)

However, it is worth noting that both military and civilian airplanes have been flying into hurricanes for the last sixty years without incident. Of course, it’s important to remember that these flights do not have passengers and are done for the sole purpose of conducting research. Out of an abundance of caution and passenger comfort, airliners are always routed well clear of hurricanes and any storms of such magnitude.  Likewise, airline pilots will always choose the safest flight path to minimize risks and would never purposefully fly into any bad storm, much less a hurricane.

…airline pilots will always choose the safest flight path to minimize risks and would never purposefully fly into any bad storm…

Regardless of these protocols, you should know that the airplanes that have flown into these storms are not unlike any of today’s airliners. They are not specially reinforced, constructed, or equipped for the purpose of flying into extreme weather. Ironically, they are in most cases far less advanced and not constructed as well as the modern airliner. And yet they routinely operate in one of the harshest and most violent environments in the sky. These planes are typically operated by organization with an interest in studying the weather, like the National Weather Service and the military. The big takeaway is that if these less modern research aircraft can readily handle hurricane force weather, then the commercial airliner you ride on should be able to do so with ease.

In fact, the airliner that you take on your upcoming business trip or vacation is quite capable of safely operating in the same adverse weather conditions, but there’s simply no reason for subjecting passengers to such a bumpy flight.   As a pilot, I just want you to know that no matter how bad the turbulence you experience may seem, the airplane is capable of safely handling much, much worse.