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.