Fasten Your Seatbelts: What You Need to Know About Turbulence
Turbulence is a weather phenomenon that can occur during air travel. It can be caused by a number of factors, including weather patterns and aircraft design. Turbulence can be dangerous, so it is important to stay safe during air travel.
Turbulence is a common cause of anxiety for many travelers. They clamp their hands to the armrests, squeezing their eyes shut and bracing themselves for the rollercoaster ahead.
In recent incidents, dozens of passengers have been injured. Seven passengers were taken to hospital with minor injuries last month after a severe turbulence hit their plane as it flew above Tennessee. In December, an infant was injured on a Hawaiian Airlines flight that took off from Phoenix and landed in Honolulu.
Recent reports have raised questions as to whether the turbulence has become more intense and frequent.
We talked to several experts to find out more about this difficult-to-predict phenomenon. What they had to say.
What is turbulence?
Turbulence, also known as turbulent air, is an unstable movement of air caused by wind changes, including jet streams, storms, and cold and warm weather fronts. The severity of the turbulence can vary, with minor to dramatic altitude and speed changes.
This can happen even when the skies are calm. It can be invisible to both the eye and weather radar.
Turbulence is classified into four categories: mild, moderate, severe, and extreme. According to the National Weather Service, in extreme turbulence cases, the pilots may lose control and even structural damage can occur to the aircraft.
Turbulence is it increasing? If so, what is the reason?
Recent research has shown that air currents are changing and are affected by increased carbon dioxide emissions.
Paul Williams, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Reading, England, has been studying turbulence since more than a decade.
According to Dr. William, the clear air turbulence that occurs at high altitudes in the winter and most often during the cold months could triple by 2050. He stated that turbulence of all types is increasing in all parts of the world, at all altitudes.
His research indicates that in the future, we may experience bumpier flights. This could lead to more injuries for passengers and crew.
How does turbulence monitoring and measurement work?
Meteorologists use a range of algorithms, satellites, and radar systems to create detailed aviation forecasts. These include conditions like cold air, wind speeds, thunderstorms, and turbulence. They indicate where and when possible turbulence may occur.
Jennifer Stroozas is a Meteorologist at the Aviation Weather Center of the National Weather Service. She called turbulence "definitely one the most difficult things to predict."
Pilots use these forecasts and guidance from air traffic control to adjust their altitude in order to avoid turbulent areas. It means that you may have to fly higher or lower than where the forecasters expect turbulence. This can cost more fuel.
Robert Sumwalt is a former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and now heads a new Aviation Safety Center at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He stressed that turbulence cannot be predicted or prevented.
Mr. Sumwalt stated that there is always the chance of unexpected rough air. It's unlikely to cause harm or to tear the wings from the plane.
Ms. Stroozas, of the National Weather Service, said that turbulence is also a greater danger for small planes, which are more vulnerable to changes in wind speeds, than commercial airliners.
How dangerous is it? How can I keep safe in turbulence conditions?
It is rare that aircraft are damaged by turbulence.
Turbulence can cause serious injuries to passengers and crew. Experts have emphasized the importance of staying seated during flights and wearing your seat belt as much as you can.
Thomas Guinn is a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and teaches Applied Aviation Sciences.
Dr. Williams stated that in severe turbulence the vertical motion will exceed gravity's pulling.
He said: 'If you are not wearing a seat belt, you become a catapult. You will be thrown out of your chair.'
While turbulence-related deaths are extremely rare, they do occur. According to the investigation, this passenger did not wear a seatbelt, and she flew from her seat. She may have hit her head on a luggage bin.
A former White House aide who was aboard a business plane traveling from New Hampshire into Virginia, died last month from fatal injuries that were initially attributed by the initial cause to severe turbulence. A preliminary N.T.S.B. The N.T.S.B. investigation revealed that the pilots of the plane had turned off the switch that stabilized the aircraft, which caused it to briefly oscillate.
What about babies sitting on laps?
Children under 2 years of age are allowed to sit on the lap of an adult during a flight. However, many experts believe that this practice should not be permitted, citing risks such as turbulence.
Last month, CWA (the Association of Flight Attendants), a union that represents about 15,000 flight attendants in 19 airlines, renewed their decades-long campaign to ensure every passenger has their own seat.
Sara Nelson, president of the union, stated in an interview, that with turbulence being'much commoner' in recent years, it is more important for children to be secured properly in child safety seats on flights.
Ms. Nelson stated that 'we are talking about situations in the cabin which are potentially fatal but can be survived if you take the proper precautions to protect yourself'.
According to the F.A.A. which provides detailed information on various child restraints and how to install them correctly onto airplane seats, unexpected turbulence causes the most pediatric injuries. Some of these products can be used on both planes and cars.
The F.A.A. Since decades, the F.A.A. Parents are urged to keep their children seated in their designated seats or in a safety seat that has been approved by the N.T.S.B. This advice is also reiterated by the American Academy of Pediatrics. These measures are not required by federal law.