Why Do Planes Avoid Pacific Ocean

Why Do Planes Not Fly Over the Pacific: the inside scoop on why flightpaths avoid the mighty Pacific 

There are a few reasons why planes avoid flying over the Pacific Ocean. The most common reason is that there are no airstrips or airports on many of the small islands, so if a plane had to make an emergency landing, it would be difficult to find a place to land. Additionally, the Pacific Ocean is vast and remote, so if a plane were to go down, it would be very difficult to find. Not to mention the often-turbulent weather conditions that plague the Pacific.

Be it in a private jet or in a commercial airliner, flying over the Pacific so challenging. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why.

Why Do Planes Avoid Pacific Ocean?

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Most commercial airlines that travel between East Asia and the Americas avoid flying over the Pacific Ocean due to high costs and safety concerns, such as the risk of flying during stormy weather.

But weather isn’t the only thing that keeps aircraft from flying over the Pacific Ocean.

1. Efficient Routing 

It is more cost-effective for airlines to travel along “curved” routes over land than over oceanic ones. It is more common for a curved route over land to be faster than a straight path over water.

For flights from the United States to Japan, for instance, a curving route across Canada and Alaska would provide the shortest travel time and the greatest fuel efficiency.

It may be difficult to visualize curving paths on a flat map, but a globe makes it evident right away.

2. Reduced expenses and time invested

Airlines may boost their profits by avoiding flying across the Pacific Ocean, which is fantastic for customers since they will pay less for their tickets and spend less time in the air.

3. Security and Safety In Case of Emergency 

Planes should avoid flying over the Pacific Ocean because it is not a suitable location for a forced landing in the event of an emergency.

It’s quite unlikely that anybody aboard a jet that crashed in the Pacific would survive the landing, and rescuers would have much of a chance in finding them down and saving them.

Since it is preferable to crash land on solid ground, and ideally close to an airport where emergency services are accessible, most airlines prefer to fly over land.

4. Changes in the Weather

Most flights are intended to spend as little time as possible over water, since storms are more common over the ocean than on land. An aircraft would not be safe to fly over the Pacific Ocean due to the stormy weather and frequent lightning strikes that occur there.

Most planes from the Americas bound for East Asia use the overland route through Canada and Alaska due to the more favorable weather conditions. Air travel across the Pacific Ocean is difficult.

5. Jet Streams

Jet streams, which are a system of air currents that circle the Earth many miles above the planet’s surface, are another reason why aircraft don’t fly over the Pacific Ocean. Due to Earth’s rotation, these air currents often move from West to East.

If an airplane is flying in the same direction as a jet stream, it may save time and fuel, but if it is flying against a jet stream, it will encounter extreme turbulence and might be damaged.

Most flights in that area follow the course of the Polar Jet Stream, which travels overland over Canada and Alaska.

What Types of Flights Take You Across the Pacific?

Anyone who has taken a trip to their Pacific destination knows that crossing the whole ocean is an extremely unusual occurrence. They avoid straight lines and instead fly over bigger areas of terrain

Flights Across the Pacific Ocean

When a plane travels from Asia or Australia to the Americas, or vice versa, this is called a transpacific flight.

While transatlantic flights are more prevalent, transpacific flights have really been accessible for commercial use since the 1930s.

Because of its high passenger capacity and fuel economy, the Boeing 747 is one of the most popular aircraft used for transpacific trips.

New developments in aviation technology have made it possible to sometimes deploy twin-engine aircraft for commercial transpacific journeys.

More and more transoceanic flights are being operated using modern jetliners like the Airbus A320, Boeing 737, and Boeing 787. Most of these flights are bound for faraway places like Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia.

Traveling to Nations Or Islands in the Pacific Ocean

There’s no way around the Pacific Ocean while traveling to or from Pacific Rim nations and areas like New Zealand, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, etc.

Flying across the Pacific Ocean, How Long Does It Take?

How long it takes to cross the Pacific Ocean is very variable and is determined by a number of factors including the aircraft type, the distance flown, the weather, and the fuel economy of the plane.

If a Boeing 747 were to fly nonstop from Los Angeles to Tokyo, the trip would take at least 11 or 12 hours.

The Pacific Ocean is so large, why don’t planes fly over it – final thoughts 

Because of its vast size, crossing the Pacific Ocean requires a staggering quantity of fuel. However, most commercial aircraft do not fly directly over the Pacific Ocean; instead, they choose what are known as ‘curved paths’. These paths offers a faster, more efficient route given the curved nature of the earth. Since Earth is spherical, the shortest distance between two places is not always a straight line, which may seem paradoxical, but in practice works out quite well.

Curved routes are preferred by aircraft because they are less likely to encounter obstacles and use less fuel than straight ones. Since a curved path covers more ground than a straight one, it provides additional options for emergency landings. Finally, if an aircraft were to crash in the Pacific Ocean, it would require a massive search and rescue operation to locate the wreckage.

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