Bumps in the air: The reality of turbulence on flights

Bumps in the air: The reality of turbulence on flights.

Bumps in the air: The reality of turbulence on flights. Image: Mario Hagen / Shutterstock.com.

Fatalities and serious injuries from turbulence are fortunately very rare.

Flight crews often predict bad weather and rough air in advance and are trained to handle the effects.

“Turbulence fatalities on commercial flights are fortunately very rare,” Dr. Paul Williams, Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, told Euronews Travel.

He explained that turbulence can be caused by storms, mountains, and strong air currents called jet streams.

Clear-air turbulence, however, is particularly challenging because it doesn’t appear on the flight deck’s weather radar and is caused by small-scale eddies too localised for most weather models to predict accurately.

Leading Cause of Non-Fatal Injuries

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), turbulence is the leading cause of non-fatal injuries to passengers and crew.

However, severe injuries and deaths on large aircraft are uncommon.

Between 2009 and 2021, 146 passengers and crew were seriously injured in turbulence incidents, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

John Strickland, a general aviation expert, told the BBC, “It is not for nothing that airlines recommend keeping seat belts loosely fastened throughout a flight, be it long or short.”

Flight attendants, who spend more time on their feet than passengers, are particularly vulnerable to turbulence-related injuries.

They are 24 times more likely to be seriously injured than passengers.

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Written by

Anna Ellis

Originally from Derbyshire, Anna has lived in the middle of nowhere on the Costa Blanca for 19 years. She is passionate about her animal family including four dogs and four horses, musicals and cooking.