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     fear of 


What are some things people should know about airplane turbulence?

  • Like eddies in a stream, most turbulence is just airflows in and around terrain or variations in atmospheric pressure over shorter or longer distances.

  • Turbulence is often associated with high clouds — known as Cumulus clouds — and for good reason; that’s how they get high,

  • The form of turbulence, typically known as “air pockets” really aren’t “pockets” but more very localized turbulence usually caused by convective activity (heated air).

  • Anything that goes up usually comes down and convective turbulence fits that model completely. For every bit of rising air there is a matching bit of descending air. Both have a turbulence effect on aircraft.

  • Turbulence can vary with altitude. Sometimes certain altitudes are like driving down a bumpy road and yet a few thousand feet higher or lower the ride may be smooth.

  • Pilots will change altitude if the ride is significantly better at the different altitude.

  • Pilots are usually aware of turbulence on their route because they’re intimately aware of the weather conditions most conducive to different kinds of turbulence. For example, all pilots and aircraft (with a few exceptions) completely avoid the king of turbulence makers — Thunderstorms.

  • But pilots also ask Air Traffic Control (ATC) for “ride reports” from other aircraft to help determine the best altitude to minimize turbulence.

  • Possible the type of turbulence that causes the most shocking discomfort and potential for injuries is called Clear Air Turbulence (CAT). An aircraft can be flying in perfectly smooth condition when CAT strikes and it’s not unusual for injuries to occur. CAT is one of the major reasons that airlines want passengers to wear their seat belts at all times.

  • Most turbulence isn’t dangerous to the aircraft or passenger. It’s just irritating and inconvenient and if the pilots could do something about it, they will.

  • If turbulence gets too uncomfortable, the flight crew also has the option to slow the aircraft down so the “bumps” are quite so onerous.

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