June 14th, 2024 | 5:14

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Everything you need to know about turbulence and its impact on air safety

Jesus Carames

May 21, 2024 | 9:00 p.m.

Stating that turbulence is dangerous without qualification, in addition to being wrong, can unnecessarily increase anxiety in passengers who are already afraid of flying. It is important to communicate information in a serious, balanced and accurate manner.

Turbulence is a normal part of flying and its impact on air safety

Turbulence is a normal part of flying and, although it can be uncomfortable and, in rare cases, cause injury, it does not usually pose a serious danger to the safety of the aircraft. To better understand this phenomenon, it is essential to know some key points.

Aircraft design and rigorous safety measures

Airplanes are designed to withstand even extreme turbulence. Commercial aircraft structures are incredibly robust and can handle the forces experienced during most turbulence events. A plane does not fall due to turbulence, no matter how strong it may be.

Airlines and aviation regulators implement rigorous safety measures to protect passengers and crew. Keeping your seat belt fastened in all phases of flight is one of the best ways to prevent injuries during turbulence. Although pilots have means and instruments that allow them to detect a large amount of turbulence, not all of it is detectable.

For example, clear air turbulence (CAT) is very difficult to detect, which can catch both crew and passengers by surprise.

Impact of turbulence and appropriate precautions

Turbulence can cause discomfort and even minor injuries if proper precautions are not taken. If passengers are not seated and wearing seat belts, aircraft movements resulting from unexpected turbulence can throw people and objects into the aircraft, causing bruises, fractures and other injuries. However, it is important to note that serious accidents are extremely rare. The vast majority of people who experience turbulence on a flight do not suffer any injuries.

Both pilots and cabin crew are trained to handle turbulence situations and take measures to minimize their impact on passengers. Pilots can change flight level (altitude) to find calmer air and give advance warning for passengers and crew to prepare. In addition, they have in-flight reports from other pilots as well as the assistance of controllers who will avoid these turbulences whenever possible.

Recent example and flight safety

A recent example is what happened on Singapore Airlines flight SQ321, where turbulence was recorded that resulted in injuries. This incident highlights the importance of following safety instructions and keeping your seat belt fastened. An investigation will now be opened to determine the exact circumstances that led to the death of that passenger and, based on the report issued, measures will be taken to further reduce these types of events.

I insist: flying is one of the safest ways to travel. The probability of suffering a serious injury due to turbulence is extremely low compared to other everyday risks.

Flying is safe, but zero risk does not exist

In summary, Turbulence is an inevitable part of flight, but does not pose a serious danger to the safety of the aircraft. Aircraft are designed to withstand them, and both crew and airlines implement rigorous safety measures to protect passengers. Although they can cause minor discomfort and injuries, serious accidents are extremely rare. Flying is safe, but zero risk does not exist in absolutely any human activity.

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