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Turbulence - how dangerous is it really?

After a serious incident involving a Singapore Airlines plane in which several people were injured and one person even died due to severe turbulence, many are asking how dangerous turbulence really is.

Anyone who has ever flown is probably familiar with the situation: the plane starts to shake, the drink in the cup spills a little and the seatbelt signs light up. Turbulence can be uncomfortable and unsettling for passengers.

Turbulence is caused by irregular movements in the air. This can have various causes. Clear air turbulence occurs at high altitudes where different air masses meet. Thermal turbulence is caused by rising warm air, while mechanical turbulence is caused by air currents over mountains or buildings. Regardless of its cause, turbulence is a normal phenomenon that occurs regularly in aviation.

Modern commercial aircraft are designed to withstand very strong turbulence. The structure of an aircraft is extremely robust and can withstand loads that far exceed those caused by turbulence.

Pilots are intensively trained to deal with turbulence. During the training, they learn how to identify turbulence areas and fly around them if possible. "We receive weather information in real time and communicate with other aircraft and ground stations to avoid turbulence," reports Captain Elisabeth Mayr, who has worked in aviation for over 25 years.

The greatest risk in turbulence is for passengers who are not wearing seat belts. Unexpected movements of the aircraft can cause unsecured people or objects to be thrown through the cabin. "It is important to keep your seat belt fastened throughout the flight, even if the seat belt signs are not lit," stresses Mayr.

Technological advances have greatly improved the prediction and avoidance of turbulence. Weather radar systems and turbulence warnings allow pilots to adjust their routes and avoid areas of severe turbulence, which goes a long way to increasing passenger safety and comfort.

So it can be said that while turbulence can be unpleasant, it rarely poses a danger to the aircraft or passengers. As long as safety precautions are observed, especially fastening seat belts during the flight, the risks are minimal. Aviation experts agree: with modern technology and experienced pilots at the controls, turbulence can be managed safely.


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