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Home > Air Travel > Plane trembled then dropped!
Plane trembled then dropped!
Flying - Air Travel
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 13:52

Use of Spoilers

Hi Captain Lim,

I stumbled upon your site recently and I am very thankful for the service you're doing for the flying public.

Anyway, a few years ago, I was on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Rome. We were on (or near) the decent phase of the flight when the plane started to vibrate/tremble/shudder.

I can compare the feeling to a car engine that's having trouble starting or staying turned on.

Right after, the plane suddenly dropped to its left side for around two seconds.

This happened another time before we landed in Rome.

From what I remember, the weather outside was pretty fair, with a few clouds scattered about.

What do you think could be the cause of this?

Hope to hear from you soon!



Hi Ven,

What you felt during the flight was nothing unusual. The vibration/trembling/shuddering sensation during descent was probably the effect of the captain selecting the speed brakes (spoilers) on to increase the rate of descent as required by the ATC (air traffic controller) followed by some clear or wake turbulence

See a FAQ about the function of spoilers here.

The wing sudden drop to the left momentarily could be the effect of clear air turbulence or wake turbulence (see similar FAQ here).

All these phenomenon are quite common if you are a frequent flyer.

Detecting Clear Air Turbulence


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