I recently became aware that Embry Riddle temporarily evacuated Florida to escape an oncoming hurricane, taking dozens of planes with it. How does an organization like this decide that planes are at significant risk of damage and shouldn't just be tied down in a storm? I would think tying down a plane and especially hangaring it would be good against any storm that isn't hurling debris or knocking down buildings. How bad does the weather have to be to decide to move all the planes? Do airlines similarly remove all their airplanes from airports in a hurricane's path?

A line of Embry Riddle planes parked at Auburn A line of Embry Riddle's plane's parked at Auburn, taken from Auburn's Facebook page.

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    $\begingroup$ But a category-whatever hurricane is a storm that's "hurling debris and knocking down buildings"! $\endgroup$ Oct 25 '16 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ I was watching these planes on flightaware leave the airport. :D $\endgroup$ Oct 25 '16 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ Related: How Well can an airplane which is tied down be protected from a blizzard, the first answer has a nice picture of what can happen to a tied down airplane. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Oct 25 '16 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ Planes are also more fragile than buildings. If a tree branch is blown into your house at high speed, you may have damage, but the house might well not be uninhabitable. If a tree branch is blown into a small aircraft, it may well do much more damage, but you're certainly not going anywhere until a qualified person does an inspection, and the repairs won't be nearly as simple. $\endgroup$ Oct 26 '16 at 1:08

This can be dependent on a few things. For larger organizations like airlines resources may not be an issue (they generally have pilots needed to move the planes). For smaller organizations it may come down to a few factors. First off do you have the people needed to move the planes (and how will you get them back home). Do you have anywhere to put the planes provided you do move them, you will need tie downs else where not to mention its going to cost you to store them elsewhere. On that note, can you foot the bill for such a move (not only the planes but the fuel, pilot housing or return trip etc...). If you want to see some of the damage and thought process for smaller planes check out this thread on the recent hurricane.

Often airlines will cancel inbound flights in advance of a hurricane so there will be fewer airplanes turning around at a potentially effected airport anyway. For the planes parked there (for what ever reason) they may they may simply move planes out of the airport,

Airlines are moving some planes to hangars while flying other planes out of the area entirely until the storm is over.

FWIW commercial airframes are fairly transient by nature anyway, so as long as its not the location of a hub city the planes are in and out anyway.

While they have access to way more resources it looks like the Airforce moves planes appropriately.

As to what conditions lead to this decision its hard to say and ultimately up to the operator in question. Generally I would think they would err on the side of caution. But from a purely economical standpoint (potential damage aside) its may be more cost effective to move the planes and use them elsewhere than have them sit on the ground anyway (since the airports will be closed).

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    $\begingroup$ can you foot the bill for such a move? -- Many insurance policies will cover "evacuation flights" to get out of the path of a hurricane if you're based in an area where that's a concern. It may not cover all of the costs(I'd have to look but I think my policy is \$500 per "evacuation" & a max of \$1000 per year), and there are usually some caveats like a minimum distance you need to fly away from your home base to qualify as "relocating", but it can help. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Oct 26 '16 at 5:23
  • $\begingroup$ That is quite interesting I did not know that. Do you know how common that is across policy providers? Does it depend where you are based out of? $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Oct 26 '16 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ I've never seen a policy that didn't have this provision, but all the policies I've seen are east-coasters who are at least occasionally in the path of hurricanes. Folks in the midwest may have other weather provisions. The amounts of coverage and the distance you have to reposition vary ("75 miles, to an area not covered by a hurricane warning or watch" is common), and if you don't reposition to get away from the storm your deductible is modified (higher) because of the higher risk. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Oct 26 '16 at 15:56

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