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Say a major hurricane is expected to hit. Given that the weather is known beforehand, what can be done to avoid damage to the airliners sitting on the tarmac?

Fly every plane away - not very economical, considering that commercial operations cease at the last minute.

Move all planes into a hangar - a Boeing 747 takes a huge hangar to park. It may be possible to move all GA planes inside, but certainly not airliners.

Planes are designed to interact with winds; the wings is meant to generate lift, and the sideway forces on a vertical stabilizer is meant to swing a plane around. What procedures would minimize the stress put in the airframe by the 100+km/h winds?

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  • $\begingroup$ I have seen tie-downs, but this still happens: youtube.com/watch?v=piPoF-3ynZk $\endgroup$ – SMS von der Tann Apr 17 '16 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ While it may not seem economical to fly the airplanes away, it is far more economical than scrapping a few of them due to damage done by a hurricane... $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Apr 17 '16 at 14:37
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    $\begingroup$ Having airliners sit on the ground is not very economical either, so airlines will generally try to have them in the air regardless of hurricanes at particular airports. $\endgroup$ – Simon Richter Apr 17 '16 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ The move them. You should have seen Newark before the hurricane. Totally deserted. Normally the place is packed with airliners parking overnight. $\endgroup$ – user3344003 Apr 17 '16 at 21:02
  • $\begingroup$ 100 KPH winds are strong, but a 747's Vr is well over 250 KPH. Properly position the flaps and you'll need considerably more airspeed (in the right direction) over the wings to lift the entire plane. $\endgroup$ – dotancohen Apr 18 '16 at 7:15
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Looking at the hurricane manuals for a few airports, evacuating flyable aircraft to a safer location tends to be the most common choice.

From the Boca Raton Airport:

Effective with the issuance of a Storm WARNING and/or Hurricane WARNING:

Relocate flyable aircraft to other geographical areas, place under suitable shelter, or secure as appropriate.

Also, from the Miami International Airport:

Upon receipt of a Hurricane Warning, Airside Operations will:

  1. Initiate evacuation of all flyable aircraft and post Airfield Operations Senior Agents and Agents in detail to insure compliance and report results.
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    $\begingroup$ My dad flies GA, and during the last hurricane we had up here in the NE, I believe his air club offered some nice getaway deals. I forget exactly what it was, but something along the lines of "if you fly it to safety, room/board costs are on you, but the engine hours are free." $\endgroup$ – yshavit Apr 17 '16 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ Out of curiously I once looked up what had become of the DC-3 that was owned by John Travolta. Turns out it was in Opa Locka when it was hit by hurricane Wilma. It was written off. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Apr 17 '16 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ @yshavit you had me very confused. I'm thinking, "A Hurricane in Nebraska?!" I'm assuming by NE you mean New England? Didn't notice "the NE" $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Apr 17 '16 at 18:12
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    $\begingroup$ Must mean "the northeast". You don't say "the New England". $\endgroup$ – Andrew Medico Apr 17 '16 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, yeah, the northeast. (Though, as it happens, also New England specifically) :) $\endgroup$ – yshavit Apr 17 '16 at 18:23
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Regarding the comment about aircraft being designed to handle high winds, presumably because they can fly > 350 knots; beside the direction of the wind being unpredictable and gusty, airplanes are not designed to deal gracefully with things being thrown at them——you know like cars, sheds and cows——or being tipped such that fuel laden wings and tanks, or exterior sensors and gear, bang the ground. I'm pretty sure flying them a few hundred miles away is less expensive than losing equipment that costs \$25m-\$60m per, even with shuttling around crews, parts, fuel, etc. I suspect tarmac tie-downs, like those you might see for smaller planes, are not anchored with > 100 knot winds in mind, and how often are they checked?

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  • $\begingroup$ It's a valid point. $\endgroup$ – Koyovis Sep 8 '17 at 2:00

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