Skip to main content
64 votes
Accepted

How does a pilot tell passengers to prepare for severe turbulence without causing panic?

Turbulence is reported on a scale of light, moderate, severe, and extreme. The full definitions are available in the FAA Aeronautical Information Manual. As experienced in the cabin, For Light ...
Ralph J's user avatar
  • 51.8k
28 votes

Do aircraft cabins have suspension?

The cabin is rigidly attached to the fuselage, with bolts. But in a way the cabins do have suspension: from the wings riding on air. Elasticity of the wing construction material acts like a spring. ...
Koyovis's user avatar
  • 61.8k
26 votes

Feeling of falling during turbulence

It's possible. Two seconds of true freefall corresponds to about 60 feet of altitude loss. This is by no means unheard of- severe turbulence can sometimes result in hundreds of feet of altitude loss! ...
Chris's user avatar
  • 16k
25 votes

Why might a flight in turbulence turn off cabin lights and heating?

Sounds like "one of those nights" when the state of the atmosphere & frontal boundaries just gives you a bunch of turbulence for the entire path of sky that your flight is using. Some ...
Ralph J's user avatar
  • 51.8k
24 votes

How do I intentionally fly into turbulence?

The best/safest way I know to get "within reason" turbulence is to go flying on a day when the sailplanes are having good flights. Every little popcorn cumulus cloud will have a thermal ...
Zeiss Ikon's user avatar
  • 17.1k
23 votes

Would the wings of a Boeing 787 be snapped off in the same turbulence in which a DC-8 lost an engine and parts of a wing?

It's very likely that the 787 would have less problems with turbulence than the DC-8 did. The wings of the Boeing 787 are more flexible than the DC-8, and that flexibility will damp the immediate ...
DeltaLima's user avatar
  • 83.5k
23 votes
Accepted

Why does a plane shake while passing through clouds?

In a word, it's called "Turbulence" and in cloud, it is caused by differing air density. Sciencey bit: The sun warms the earth and causes the air to rise. As warm air rises, it cools at the wet ...
Jamiec's user avatar
  • 33.5k
19 votes

Turbulence from hot weather?

The weather creating the conditions is atmospheric convection from a combination of the sun heating the ground (unevenly) and instability of the atmosphere in between the ground and 5-10,000 feet. The ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
17 votes

What is the least turbulent altitude under 10,000 feet ASL that planes usually fly?

There are 3 main sources of turbulence: Mechanical, from air flowing over the surface, like river rapids. Convective from solar heating of the surface (discounting other surface heat sources which ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
16 votes
Accepted

Why does wake turbulence sink?

Lift is created by accelerating air downwards. The same goes for wake turbulence: The vortices form at the boundary between the downward-moving strip of air (wake) from surrounding air that tries to ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
16 votes
Accepted

Do airliners respond to mild turbulence in real time?

Stability by design Transport aircraft are inherently stable. They are designed with a positive static stability, meaning they tend to automatically correct for variations in their attitude and return ...
mins's user avatar
  • 74.7k
15 votes

How come the DC-8 plane can withstand +15G from turbulence, but newer planes can only withstand 20% of that amount?

Before jumping to conclusions, let's look at the numbers: The duration was about 10 seconds, the altitude excursions was 500 ft. There is no way we can derive a 15g acceleration from that. It ...
DeltaLima's user avatar
  • 83.5k
14 votes
Accepted

Turbulence from hot weather?

Weather forecasting is not a perfect science, forecasters can predict with reasonable accuracy how the conditions will be over a large area, but there will often be significant variations within that ...
GdD's user avatar
  • 54k
14 votes
Accepted

Location on the wing where obstacles least disturb airflow

Generally, the farther aft a small obstacle is, the less turbulence and drag it makes, because farther aft the boundary layer is more likely to be already turbulent. However, if the obstacle is heavy, ...
Camille Goudeseune's user avatar
13 votes

People say that modern airliners are more resilient to turbulence, but I see that a 707 and a 787 still have the same G-rating. Why is this?

Note that the 2.5 g limit is for load due to manoeuvring, not only for turbulence. The certification specification for large aircraft on the subject of turbulence and gusts has changed several times ...
DeltaLima's user avatar
  • 83.5k
13 votes

Feeling of falling during turbulence

It is even possible the plane was not descending at all. Unless I am mistaken, an updraft can cause the plane to accelerate upwards and, if the upwards acceleration ends abruptly, it can feel as if ...
Mark Foskey's user avatar
13 votes

Do airliners respond to mild turbulence in real time?

When the autopilot is engaged, which is typical during cruise flight, it's working to hold the wings level and maintain the desired pitch most of the time (a programmed turn or climb/descent to follow ...
Ralph J's user avatar
  • 51.8k
13 votes

If calculating turbulence is computationally expensive, why not do something simpler?

You're correct, most CFD is overkill. Most engineers are not taught when a tool is overkill -- they're just taught to use the 'best' tool they have. CFD produces pretty pictures that can give insight ...
Rob McDonald's user avatar
  • 13.1k
12 votes

Why would a plane drop 14.000 ft mid flight?

I looked up the flight on Flightradar24.com. The descent starts at 16:10 UTC and ends at 16:29 UTC, going from 38.000 feet to 24.000 feet. So, the aircraft descended 14.000 feet in 19 minutes. 14....
Noah Krasser's user avatar
  • 9,002
12 votes

Why does wake turbulence sink?

@PeterKampf's answer is (as usual) perfectly fine in and of itself. I would add another way to look at it, more focused on the vortices you were interested in. One way of looking at the airflow is to ...
MrBrushy's user avatar
  • 778
11 votes

Do airliners respond to mild turbulence in real time?

I suspect you were flying on an aircraft with a gust/load alleviation system such as the Boeing 787, Airbus A350 or A380. In these aircraft, accelerations due to turbulence are measured in the wing ...
DeltaLima's user avatar
  • 83.5k
10 votes
Accepted

Is there always turbulence over China?

China is well known for having very strict air traffic control, who often are reluctant to give pilots the flexibility to deviate around bad weather or try a different - smoother - flight level (as I'...
os1's user avatar
  • 1,560
10 votes

Has turbulence ever killed a passenger?

The following is a list of deadly turbulence accidents on jet airliners since 1980. Excluded are accidents involving jet airliners designed or built in the former Soviet Union. For a more complete ...
summerrain's user avatar
  • 3,474
10 votes

Is turbulence a random process?

The equations that describe fluid flow, the Navier Stokes equations, are generally considered chaotic. In particular turbulence is defined as " fluid motion characterized by chaotic changes in ...
DJClayworth's user avatar
  • 4,501
9 votes

How come the DC-8 plane can withstand +15G from turbulence, but newer planes can only withstand 20% of that amount?

It's what they're certified to. The DC-8 was also certified to 2.5 limit/3.75 ultimate but almost all airplanes are stronger than the minimum, and airplanes designed in the late 50s during the slide ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
9 votes
Accepted

What are good tips for flying across Tejon pass?

I cross that pass on my commute twice a week in my VariEze at altitudes between 5500 and 11500 ft depending on winds and clouds. There's nothing to be particularly nervous about, there's rarely any ...
pericynthion's user avatar
  • 4,640
9 votes
Accepted

Are the turbulence reports by pilots via PIREPs used by other nearby aircraft or air traffic controllers to modify operations in any way?

Yes, pilots will often modify operations in response to turbulence PIREPs: Turn on fasten seatbelt sign Ask flight attendants to be seated Request a higher or lower altitude where there is less ...
Orienteer's user avatar
  • 158
8 votes

Why does placing one hand on the head track stabilize you during turbulence?

He's just saying that you can brace your torso, and transfer the airplane's movements into your torso better so you don't sway around relative to the floor, by holding something rigid with your hand ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
7 votes
Accepted

How is close formation flying possible with things like thermals and turbulence?

Disclaimer: I'm not a Blue Angels pilot so don't know their exact procedures/limitations, but have done a fair share of military formation flying. Answer: It is possible, it's just a more "bumpy" ...
c4n's user avatar
  • 358

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible