airplane in the skyTurbulence Explained, and Why You Shouldn’t Be Scared

For a handful of people on an average flight, turbulence seems like a life-threatening nightmare. Although the feeling of turbulence is extremely uncomfortable, it’s rarely a dangerous circumstance. The aircraft dispatching professionals from Sheffield’s aeronautics school delve into the world of what causes turbulence, and why flyers shouldn’t be scared of turbulence.


What is Turbulence?

The drink spiller, the luggage shaker, and the nerve jerker, in so many words. Turbulence occurs when an airplane hits a strong wind current that can push or pull the plane. Most commercial jets fly high enough to avoid these wind patterns, but gusts can happen at any altitude. There are different types of turbulence in which an aircraft can experience.


Caused by the exchange of rising hot air and sinking cooler air.

Wake Turbulence

If an airplane passes by another airplane or helicopter, the plane can get caught in the other plane’s wake. Bigger planes result in bigger wakes, and smaller planes are more vulnerable if they run into one – which is why there’s a set of rules stating the minimum distance there must be between two aircrafts.


When closer to the ground, wind is subject to friction, and its flow is affected by the Earth’s surface and everything on it. The wind is less straight and steady on the ground, and variations in direction and speed can cause turbulence at low levels.


Air can steer upwards when it encounters high mountains.


How Do Pilots Detect Turbulence?

An onboard weather radar highlights where large quantities of rain are located. Typically, the bigger the raindrops, the bigger the cloud, and the more turbulent it will be inside the cloud. They can choose to fly through the cloud or fly around it.

When pilots fly into turbulence, great chances are they are doing their best to remove the plane from the situation. The feeling of turbulence is uncomfortable for the passengers, and the crew, and they don’t enjoy it any more than you do.


Is Turbulence Dangerous?

Unfortunately, turbulence is responsible for 1/3 of all weather-related aircraft accidents. While severe turbulence can cause the pilot to lose control, it’s rarely a very serious incident. Pilots are well-trained and able to handle these situations, not to mention that planes are built to be very study and can withstand the rough patches.


How to Handle Turbulence

  • Safely stow away your luggage
  • Use the restroom before takeoff
  • Get a seat near the center of the plane
  • Make sure your seatbelt is fastened, and fits comfortably
  • Keep calm upon feeling turbulence


Despite the fears some people have over flying, the aircraft dispatching professionals, as well as the entire flight crew, are well-trained in any instance. Remembering this information from our aeronautics school can keep you from being scared of turbulence as a whole.

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