Air turbulence could increase in the future: “And there is often a problem with passenger discipline”

Air turbulence could increase in the future: “And there is often a problem with passenger discipline”
Air turbulence could increase in the future: “And there is often a problem with passenger discipline”

A rapid descent caused by the pilots?

We will have to wait for the results of the investigation to know what really happened. reacts Alain Vanalderweireldt, president of Beca, the Belgian association of airline pilots. The first data indicates a very rapid descent of the plane. It is possible that the pilots wanted to get out of the turbulence as quickly as possible”.

Another possibility: the pilots temporarily lost control of the plane, which can happen in extremely severe turbulence. The causes of these weather phenomena can be multiple. Some of them, namely clear-sky turbulence, which is difficult to predict because it is difficult to detect by radar, could be more and more frequent, according to a recent study by the University of Reading in England.

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A worrying increase in the North Atlantic

English researchers thus found that on an average point in the North Atlantic – on one of the busiest air routes in the world – the total annual duration of “severe turbulence” had increased by 55% between 1979 and 2020. More worrying, according to the authors, this increase is not unrelated to the effects of climate change and should therefore continue to increase in the years to come.

Airlines are going to have to start thinking about how they are going to deal with increased turbulence, because it costs the industry between $150 million and $500 million a year in the United States alone.”, explains Mark Prosser, one of the researchers. In addition to the damage caused to their planes, air carriers also sometimes have to modify their route to avoid excessive turbulence.

Known areas in Europe

In 29 years of career, Alain Vanalderweireldt says, however, that he has not noticed an increasing number of turbulences in the sky. “There are known areas in Europe, like when you go over the Alps or the Pyrenees where the plane can be shaken but not to an extent that would break it either”. The captain also believes that the crews are increasingly better equipped to avoid these risk areas. “We now have weather information that comes to us almost live.”

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The crews also do not always set a good example, continuing to pass by with their cart to sell or distribute meals and drinks when the signals tell them to sit down.

Was the crew of the Singapore Airlines flight totally surprised by the severe turbulence on Tuesday? According to the testimony of a passenger on the flight, “the plane suddenly collapsed” when the seat belt signal had just come on. ”Some people hit their heads on the ceiling of the baggage cabins and dented it, they hit the places where the lights and masks are and went through the ceiling”explained another passenger to the Reuters agency.

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“There is often a discipline problem with passengers who undo their seat belts without following the instructions given”deplores the president of Beca. The crews also do not always set a good example, continuing to pass by with their cart to sell or distribute meals and drinks when the signals ask them to sit down..

Note that the Turbi.com site gives, at six hour intervals, an interactive map of the turbulence that could be encountered on the path of any flight around the world. An Austrian company Turbulence Solutions claims, for its part, to have developed a system which would reduce the shaking of the plane by 80% in the event of turbulence. The idea is to automatically adjust the plane’s control surfaces to eliminate shocks.

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