Airplane turbulence may seem like the end of the road but statistically, there is no data of a plane crash caused by turbulence. Here is why turbulence is caused and why it should stop you from booking your next flight.
It can feel like the scariest part of flying, but turbulence is no cause for alarm.
Turbulence is a sudden change in airflow. It can be caused by a number of factors. The most common cause is turbulent air in the atmosphere.
Jet streams trigger sudden changes in wind speed that can rock the plane. Another type is thermal turbulence. It’s created by hot rising air, usually from cumulus clouds or thunderstorms. Mechanical turbulence is caused by the landscape. Mountains or tall buildings can distort the wind flow in the sky above them.
Airplanes can also create turbulence. The wings cause wake turbulence as it passes through the air. This can affect planes flying behind one another. It’s why planes avoid taking the same flight path on take offs and landings. Pilots and air traffic control do a lot to avoid turbulence.
But even when they do run into it, the risk is low. Modern aircraft are built to withstand even severe turbulence. They can quickly rise and fall up to 100 feet. As a result, turbulence hasn’t caused a plane crash in over 40 years.
Unfortunately, it has been on the rise. Since 1958, turbulence rose 40-90% over Europe and North America. Studies suggest global warming could cause it to be worse by 2050.
When booking seats, aim for ones closest to the wings. These will be the smoothest in turbulence. For now, trust your pilot, be smart and buckle up.