World of Knowledge (Australia) - - Contents -

Your views and ques­tions aired


I was on a stom­ach- churn­ing flight re­cently and won­dered whether tur­bu­lence can ever bring down a plane. And why do air­lines turn on the ‘Fas­ten Seat­belts’ sign even when tur­bu­lence is mild?

Al­though a bumpy in­ter­lude dur­ing a flight can be ex­tremely un­com­fort­able, the like­li­hood of tur­bu­lence bring­ing down a plane is close to zero. The rea­son air­lines en­able the ‘Fas­ten Seat­belts’ sign when pass­ing through tur­bu­lent air cur­rents is be­cause even light dis­tur­bance can turn to se­vere within sec­onds – and it’s hard to pre­dict in ad­vance. Those not se­curely belted into their seats can, and have, flown into drinks trol­leys, arm rests or the ceil­ing, break­ing bones and sus­tain­ing con­cus­sions in the process. Hun­dreds of peo­ple have been in­jured, some se­ri­ously, by fail­ing to heed the cap­tain’s ad­vice. It’s re­as­sur­ing to re­mem­ber, though, that there has never been an in­stance of a plane be­ing brought down by air tur­bu­lence alone. It’s how pi­lots re­act that de­ter­mines the out­come. Thank­fully, air­lines train their staff for ev­ery pos­si­ble even­tu­al­ity and mod­ern planes are de­signed to cope with all sorts of in­clement weather. To read more about how air­craft are ser­viced to make sure they can deal with tur­bu­lence, turn to page 56.

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