Deadly turbulence: A wake-up call for the aviation industry - The Tribune India

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Deadly turbulence

A wake-up call for the aviation industry

Deadly turbulence

THE 1,800-metre descent of a Singapore Airlines airplane amid severe turbulence, which left a 73-year-old British man dead and 71 injured, is shocking. - Reuters file photo



THE 1,800-metre descent of a Singapore Airlines airplane amid severe turbulence, which left a 73-year-old British man dead and 71 injured, is shocking. Marking the airline’s first fatality in 24 years, it underscores the growing threat of disturbance in modern air travel. Turbulence, particularly the clear-air variety that is suspected in this incident, is a formidable threat despite advances in meteorological technology. Experts say that it is most hazardous as it often strikes without warning or visibility to pilots near jet streams and other atmospheric boundaries. The unpredictability makes it vital for passengers to heed the seatbelt sign at all times, as unbuckled individuals are at a higher risk of suffering injuries during such sudden episodes, even as turbulence fatalities are very rare.

The emergency landing in Bangkok and the treatment of injured passengers, including six in a critical condition, illustrate the severity of the incident as also the potential for harm by bumpy rides. A thorough investigation, as promised by Singapore’s Prime Minister, should unravel the causes of and circumstances around the deadly drop, thereby helping understand and mitigate such risks. It is believed that climate change is exacerbating turbulence. Scientists at Reading University have noted a significant increase in severe turbulence over the past four decades, attributing the rise to changing wind patterns driven by global warming.

As air travel soars, so does the likelihood of encountering turbulent zones, complicating flight planning and passenger safety. The aviation industry must adapt to these new realities. Enhanced forecasting tools, rigorous training for crew and stricter adherence to safety protocols are essential. Airlines must also prioritise passenger education, ensuring the importance of staying buckled up throughout the flight. As the skies get rougher, concerted efforts are needed to navigate these challenges and ensure safer journeys for all.


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