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Home > Air Turbulence > Why is air turbulence getting so common today?
Why is air turbulence getting so common today?
Weather - Air Turbulence
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 02:27

Air Turbulence Tips

Hello Capt Lim,

I really thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I fly almost every week for business and turbulence is almost a certainty these days.

My question is WHY? I've flown almost every week for the last 8 years to many global destinations and I have noticed that during the last years, having a smooth and "boring" flight is the exception. I don't remember that flights used to be like that. I remember that flights used to be bumpy only during winter season and you could easily notice that weather had become more stable when you started to have smoother flights.

Today, no matter the season, time, and route, there is always clear air turbulence. Like something has changed.

Do Flight Professionals have noticed this change too - more turbulence than before?

I know and understand that turbulence is a comfort issue, not a safety issue, but at the end of the day the truth is that it feels TERRIBLE and anxiety comes from not knowing what will come later!

Once the airplane starts to move, it can continue like that, calm down, or get worse, you just can't know during clear air turbulence. I believe that's the main issue that causes anxiety. If you could know that it WILL get worst or that it WILL REMAIN like that, then you know there’s no anxiety, I suppose..

I think that my worst fear is if it is possible for a commercial plane to roll like a fighter aircraft during strong turbulence and end upside down? … or if the plane can be "thrown off" and roll and turn like paper ball for at least a while maybe?

I know this sounds extreme, but sometimes air can hit the airplane so violently that you feel like a feather that can end rolling and turning all over the sky. If you are at 34,000 feet, maybe it's not that bad and you can recover but at around 800 km/h, that doesn't sound very nice and it only comes to my mind a structural damage. I also know that aircraft are design to withstand a lot of stress but what about a rolling or a violent turn? At the speed jet airliners fly it seems that a violent movement may be cruel.

Thanks in advance for your comments!


Hi Carlos,

In my opinion, I don’t think the weather has changed as significantly as you have described. Personally, I think it has remained the same, just like the sun rising every morning when it should be

Perhaps you have not been lucky to have flown on the days when the weather has not been so kind to you. Yes, turbulence will always be present if the plane is flown into environment that creates it.

I have answered many questions on this topic here.

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim

About Air Turbulence - from a Flight Attendant


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Comments (3)

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flighs are getting more lighter in new generation models.can you remember about your flight models in your earlier flights and now.
Alex , 09 Jul, 2012
Agree with Carlos
i also noticed air pockets getting worse. i think that since the tsunami in Indonesia about 6-7 years ago, the weather all over the world has been getting unsteady, and with that,turbulence.
J from NY , 16 Oct, 2012
Owner, consulting firm.
I fly Chicago - Honolulu; often twice a month. I have also noticed an increase in light to moderate turbulence in the past two years. In fact, yesterday's flight felt like long ride down a rutted gravel road. Guessing the seat belt sign was on for 6 hours of the 8 1/2 hour flight. I have a different theory. It used to be the pilot often would, with announcement, either change altitude or vector to "smooth out the bumps". I don't see the practice anymore. Any chance the airline management has instructed the pilots to ride out the light to moderate chops rather than making adjustment to mitigate or eliminate the bumps in deference to passenger comfort, always in order to save on fuel costs?
Tom , 26 Feb, 2015

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