Climate change may also lead to the fact that a terrible phenomenon in aircraft, leading to 37.6% of all accidents, may intensify. This was stated by British experts on the pages of the Daily Mail newspaper. However, since we are talking about turbulence, especially one of its most unpleasant types – sudden turbulence in clear skies, tourists were given simple tips on how to avoid injury with a high probability.
In general, it is turbulence that has caused 37.6% of accidents on board aircraft over the past few years. The British Federal Aviation Administration has published data on 146 serious injuries due to turbulence from 2009 to 2021. Moreover, injuries can be very serious – up to fractures and even death. True, crew members are most often affected, often remaining on their feet during “air pockets”. However, we recall that it was turbulence and a sharp decline in the aircraft that caused the emergency on a recent Lufthansa flight from Texas to Germany, after which the aircraft had to make an emergency landing and seven passengers were hospitalized with injuries. Read the details in this TURPROM article. There are also more traumatic flights – according to the publication for two days in December on two flights to Honolulu and Houston, 41 people suffered injuries as a result of sudden turbulence.
Experts explained to tourists that, in fact, turbulence is such air “storm waves” that move in the most chaotic way. The most dangerous type is clear-air turbulence, which often occurs without visible warning. It is caused by air currents at high altitudes, called “jet currents”, a kind of “air rivers”. They, in turn, are caused by a situation where two huge air masses located close to each other move at different speeds. If the difference in speed is large enough, grandiose “eddies” occur at the border of the air currents, similar to whirlpools in water. “When these whirlpools are the same scale as the plane, they cause one side of the plane to go up and the other side to go down, or cause the plane to lose and gain altitude very quickly,” explained Thomas Guinn, professor of meteorology at Embry-Riddle University of Aeronautics in Daytona. Beach, Florida.
At the same time, moderate turbulence can be avoided by climbing to a great height, but areas of strong turbulence should be avoided altogether. Fortunately, general areas of turbulence can usually be warned about. “If the indicators indicate a serious danger, we usually expect pilots to avoid these regions,” the expert added.
The problem is that climate change affects not only water currents, but also air currents and changes temperature regimes in the upper atmosphere, which causes greater instability of jet streams. This is how Paul D. Williams, Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading in England, described the situation. “At cruising altitudes, where airplanes fly, the tropics heat up faster than the poles… resulting in a greater north-south temperature difference across the entire jet stream, and it is this temperature difference that causes “wind shear” and “eddies” of air masses.” – said the expert. He only hopes that people will learn to better predict turbulence and the specialized forecasts that are used to find smooth routes are gradually improving.
In the meantime, the Federal Agency has given tourists simple safety advice. Turbulence injury research has shown that the majority of passengers with serious injuries sustained injuries while moving around the cabin or sitting without seat belts. They, like the flight attendants most often injured, simply could not stay on their feet with a sharp change in the position of the aircraft, as a result – falls associated with fractures; problems with the spine and neck are also possible. So tourists are advised to walk around the cabin as little as possible, it is advisable to sit in your place with a seat belt fastened, especially if a warning about turbulence sounded. Parents of small children are specifically advised to use special seat belts for greater safety.
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