A JetBlue flight from Punta Cana to Newark flew over a hurricane. FlightAware
- A JetBlue flight flew over Hurricane Fiona on an unusual flight path on Monday, WaPo reports.
- The airline consulted with the FAA and meteorologists about the flight path, a Post spokesman said.
- FlightAware data shows it was flying between 30,000 and 34,000 feet when storm clouds reached 45,000 feet.
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Airlines usually go to great lengths to ensure that their planes avoid severe storms, but sometimes there is a way around the problem.
In the case of the JetBlue flight from Punta Cana to Newark on Monday, the decision was to fly over Hurricane Fiona, according to The Washington Post.
Fiona brought winds of up to 130 miles per hour as it swept across the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, killing eight people, Reuters reported. It became a Category 4 storm at its peak on Wednesday.
FlightAware data shows the Airbus A320 was flying over what was then a Category 2 storm during its journey from the Dominican Republic. By Monday night, data showed storm clouds as high as 45,000 feet.
According to FlightAware, the JetBlue plane flew between 30,000 and 34,000 feet on Monday, indicating that it would be difficult to avoid all aspects of the storm.
JetBlue told the Post that the airline consulted with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before deciding on flights and canceled some accordingly, but others still went ahead.
“Each flight is planned by a team of experts who then continuously monitor the flight and the weather,” JetBlue spokesman Derek Dombrowski told the newspaper in an email.
“It is important to understand that when planning a flight, both the direction and the height of the weather system are taken into account when making decisions.”
Randy Bass, a meteorologist who runs Bass Weather Services, told the Post, “I wouldn’t want to be on that flight.”
However, meteorologist and pilot James Eidelot told The Points Guy in 2018 that it was safe to fly over the hurricane.
Most tropical systems and hurricanes were not as strong as traditional thunderstorms, he said. “As far as flying goes, there should be no problem flying over a hurricane in an aircraft equipped to monitor radar echo tops.”
Flying near a hurricane can still be a nasty trip, with a 2011 FAA report saying that planes “may encounter hail and severe turbulence anywhere within 20 miles of very severe thunderstorms.”
A medical emergency, loss of air pressure, or engine failure could also theoretically cause a plane to descend in a storm.
JetBlue did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.