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Home > Air Turbulence > Hurt by Wake Turbulence
Hurt by Wake Turbulence
Weather - Air Turbulence
Saturday, 13 October 2012 16:24

Airbus A380 Wake Turbulence

Dear Capt Lim,

What does weighted turbulence means?

I am a Flight Attendant who got hurt during turbulence and the Captain's report used that term.

Can you tell me more about it?

Diana.

Hi Diana,

I have not heard of this term ‘weighted turbulence’ but I believe you probably misheard it. It is more likely ‘wake turbulence’ that your captain was referring to.

Wake turbulence is not caused by nature but created by another aircraft flying in front. Generally, any aircraft flying in front will cause disturbance to the airflow behind that ranges from minor to severe in intensity - the bigger the airplane ahead, the greater the wake turbulence.

For instance, air traffic controller will impose a separation between each category of aircraft taking off or landing on the runway based on the following FAA regulations:-

• Super - A separate designation that currently only refers to the Airbus A380.
• Heavy - Aircraft capable of takeoff weights of 140,000 kg or more.
• Large - Aircraft of more than 19,000 kg
• Small – Aircraft of 19,000 kg or less.

So an aircraft of a lower category must not be allowed to take off less than two minutes behind an aircraft of a higher category. If the following aircraft does not start its take-off roll from the same point as the preceding aircraft, this is increased to three minutes.

Additionally there are also distance separation between the aircraft as below:-

Preceding aircraft Following aircraft  Minimum radar separation
Super Super 4 NM
  Heavy 6 NM
  Large 7 NM
  Small 8 NM
Heavy Heavy 4 NM
  Large 5 NM
  Small 6 NM
Large Small 5 NM


Sometimes a plane can encounter wake turbulence during the cruise, climb or descent at high level due to the changing winds at the particular level.

On November 12, 2001, an American Airlines Airbus A300 with 267 passengers crashed shortly after take-off from John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York.

The Airbus A300 took off immediately after a Japan Airlines Boeing 747-400 on the same runway. It flew into the larger jet's wake turbulence.

Investigation revealed that the first officer made an error in handling the plane during the turbulent air encounter. As a result, his over controlling of the rudders stressed the aircraft's fin (vertical stabilizer) and eventually snapped it off entirely, causing the aircraft to crash.

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


Wake Turbulence Avoidance


Caution! Wake Turbulence

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