Why Don’t Planes Fly Over Tibet?

Tibet Autonomous Region, which is not flown over on long-haul flights in Asia, is a sparsely populated and mountainous area of China. There are many technical reasons why this region, known as the “Roof of the World”, is not flown over.

Route planning and operational changes in aviation is a complex and varied process. Many factors are analyzed in this area where fine workmanship is made; The possibilities that may create danger and cause unnecessary loss of time and money are avoided as much as possible. The reason for not flying over this region is the result of these analyzes.

The most valuable reason for airplanes to stay away from the area is that the terrain is uneven and the average altitude is too high.

why don't planes fly over tibet

Even the lowlands in the region are 3,000 meters high, with an average elevation of about 4,500 meters. Of course, planes can go much higher, but in emergency situations where cabin pressure drops, the plane must descend to an altitude of 3,000 meters before being diverted to an airport as per the procedure.

The oxygen given to the passengers on the plane can only be enough for 20 minutes at that altitude if the required altitude cannot be descended. There is almost no suitable area for an emergency landing in the region. The two existing airports are both very far away and only a few pilots have the experience of landing at these airports.

The risk of turbulence increases in high mountain areas. The turbulences in and around the Tibetan Plateau are much more intense.

Turbulence is caused by the up and down movement of air currents in waves and at different speeds. Turbulence can also occur on a random route, but the violence of those in this area will greatly disturb the passengers and can make an emergency even more dangerous.

Jet fuel also has a risk of freezing.

The freezing point of Standard Jet A1 fuel is -47 degrees Celsius. Temperatures are not always this low in the region, but cruising for a long time at an altitude above the mountains, which is actually cold, will increase the risk of freezing the fuel.

In addition, there is no radar system in the region to support the radar system on aircraft. The whole region is only 0.2% of the population of China because the population is very sparse, there are no experts in radar systems in the region, and probably nobody prefers to come from China and work here.

There are also military bases in India near Tibet. This also has an effect, as commercial flights are forbidden to pass over military bases.

Reaching the wreckage after a possible accident will be severe.

Even if there are survivors, it can take days to get emergency help to them. Survivors will also be less likely to survive due to strong rules in the area. In addition, the black box can be thrown hundreds of meters away, fall off cliffs, or get caught in an avalanche. Therefore, the causes and details of the accident will not be understood.

Sources: Interesting Engineering, Simple Flying