Turbulence Education andTraining Aid

Clear-air and mountain-wave turbulence is the leading cause of injury to cabin crews and passengers in non-fatality commercial airplane incidents. The resulting rough ride also creates a negative public perception of the safety of flight. An industry team consisting of participants from U.S. operators, Douglas Products Division, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has developed a turbulence education and training aid to help reduce the number of turbulence-related incidents.

The turbulence created by clear-air and mountain-wave conditions presents a considerable threat of cabin crew and passenger injury and airplane damage to commercial airplane flights, and no onboard detection and warning device is currently available to alert flight crews to all impending encounters. Even though many turbulence-related incidents are minor and go unreported, data from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board reveal that major U.S. operators have experienced more than 250 of these incidents in the past 15 years. The encounters resulted in the deaths of three passengers and serious injuries to 70 others.

The effort to reduce or even eliminate the threat of turbulence includes the following measures:

  1. FAA and operator response.

  2. Implementation of turbulence education and training aid.

  3. More efficient use of existing technologies.

  4. Development of new technologies.

FAA and Operator Response
The FAA has responded to the threat of turbulence by launching a campaign to educate the traveling public. The FAA also emphasizes the importance of wearing seat belts throughout every flight, and particularly in response to flight-crew warnings. In addition, several major U. S. operators have recently implemented a policy that requires passengers to keep seat belts fastened for the duration of their flight.

Implementation of Turbulence Education and Training Aid
The turbulence education and training aid is an educational resource designed to increase the awareness of flight crews, flight attendants, managers, dispatchers, meteorologists, and air traffic controllers to the potential for turbulence-related injuries and damage. It is also a baseline example of turbulence training that operators may use to develop their own programs. The training aid highlights the importance of operators establishing policies for avoiding turbulence and suggests that operators support in-flight avoidance actions that have the potential to delay subsequent arrival schedules. Establishing and following standard operating procedures for weather deviation and turbulence avoidance provides flight crews with the knowledge, confidence, and authority they need to act properly if they encounter turbulence.

The training aid consists of documentation and a video and is divided into four sections:

An effective turbulence education program retains the key training elements of recognition and action included in the video and operator's guide. A ground-school presentation of the materials, video, and quiz can be most effective when operators customize the aid to match their existing facilities.

More Efficient Use of Existing Technologies
In addition to turbulence education and training, other means of reducing the threat in the short term include greater use of Doppler radar, turbulence plotting, flight-crew reports of turbulence, and automatic uplinks through the Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System.

Government regulatory agencies throughout the world can also assist in the immediate effort by encouraging more real-time communication of weather information to flight crews and by encouraging air traffic controllers to provide additional clearances for turbulence avoidance. These agencies can also call for increased cooperation and knowledge sharing among all affected parties.

Development of New Technologies
In addition to assisting with short-term solutions, government regulatory agencies can help create long-term solutions. Examples of this activity include supporting the aviation industry in the development of new systems that detect clear-air and mountain-wave turbulence and that deliver an early warning to the flight crew. Further development of existing technologies can lead to increased communication between airplanes and the ground to provide the flight crew with continuous, real-time weather information.

The threat presented by turbulence is significant, both for passengers and for commercial airplanes themselves. Operators can now use a turbulence education and training aid, developed by several members of the aviation industry, to mitigate the effects of turbulence. This education and training of personnel can be supplemented by other short-term solutions. However, the threat posed by clear-air and mountain-wave turbulence can be eliminated only by the development of systems that detect it and provide early warning to flight crews.

Turbulence Training Aid
The turbulence training aid has been distributed to all operators of Boeing- and Douglas-designed airplanes, as well as to all U.S. regional and Air Transport Association member operators. Inquiries about receiving a copy of the training aid should be directed to the following:Director,Flight Technical Services,Boeing Commercial Airplane Group,P. O. Box 3707, MC 20-97,Seattle, WA 98124-3307, USAPhone: (206) 662-7800FAX: (206) 662-8835

Turbulence Information on the Web
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration offers a web site devoted to the subject of wake turbulence:http://www.tc.faa.gov/ZDV/safety/wake.html

David Williams
Chief Pilot

Flight Standards and Safety
Douglas Products Division

return to top | AERO text-only contents | Boeing Home | Commercial
Copyright The Boeing Company. All rights reserved.