Turbulence in aircraft is likely to be increasingly common in the years to come. But no safety risk in flight.
During an airplane flight, it may happen to encounter a zone of turbulence. More or less violent, the latter are quite impressive for travellers. They generally occur when aircraft in the air cross so-called “wind shear” zones. With ascending and descending airflows, the plane yo-yos.
According to a recent study by CNN among passengers, nearly 65,000 planes experience turbulence every year. But in addition to these “shaken” aircraft, the study explains that 5,000 other aircraft are victims of “more severe” turbulence. Results that do not surprise Paul Williams, professor at the University of Reading (United Kingdom) and specialist in the matter.
More severe turbulence ahead
He explains in his latest study that the most severe turbulence will double or even triple in the coming decades. A phenomenon that can be explained by the arrival of “turbulence in clear skies”. Unpredictable, they occur because of “air pockets” and quickly cause the aircraft to fall. According to the US Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), they were responsible for 28% of plane crashes that occurred between 2009 and 2018.
A frightening figure, but Paul Williams wants to be reassuring. He assures that air travel will not become more dangerous and that this turbulence, although unpredictable by nature, is not such a great danger. He explains that the current construction standards for airliners drastically reduce the risks.
30 minutes of turbulence for a transatlantic flight
According to his study, turbulence will be more frequent and longer. As an example, the researcher highlights a London-New York flight. A classic transatlantic crossing of this kind should experience about ten minutes of turbulence in a classic flight. The scientist ensures that in 20 or 30 these turbulences will be more violent and they will last twice as long.
A problem taken very seriously by the entire aeronautical world. President of the Flight Attendants association, Sara Nelson explains that new measures will be taken to avoid accidents inside the aircraft during a period of turbulence. So it will soon be impossible for a parent to travel with a child under the age of two on their lap. A procedure already implemented by many airlines around the world.
In its report on the subject, the NTSB also explains that turbulence will have to be better “listed and tracked over time” in order to facilitate the movement of aircraft between these areas.