The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that ANA and WestJet have joined its Turbulence Aware Platform. The announcement comes during the 79th IATA Annual General Meeting.
Dealing with in-flight turbulence
Turbulence Aware was launched in 2018 with the aim of helping airlines to mitigate the impact of turbulence, which is a leading cause of passenger and crew injuries and higher fuel costs each year.
The platform works by collecting anonymized turbulence data from thousands of flights operated by participating airlines.
The real-time, accurate information then enables pilots and flight dispatchers to choose optimal flight paths – avoiding known turbulence risks and flying at optimum levels to maximize fuel efficiency and thereby reduce CO2 carbon emissions.
The challenge of managing the phenomenon is expected to grow as climate change continues to impact weather patterns. This has implications for both safety and efficiency of flight. Turbulence Aware is a significant improvement in turbulence reporting and avoiding excess fuel consumption.
“Accurate and timely data empowers crews to improve safety by avoiding turbulence. The more contributors we have, the more everyone benefits.”
“The addition of ANA and WestJet enhances our coverage especially in Asia Pacific and North America,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
Current airline participation
At present, 20 airlines participate in the IATA Turbulence Aware Platform with more than 1,900 aircraft providing data daily. In 2022, a total of 31 million reports were generated.
Japan’s ANA will start providing data from nine aircraft as of 1 July 2023, with the aim of increasing this to 125 aircraft in the next three years.
Canada’s WestJet is already capturing data from 24 aircraft and will expand this to 60 aircraft in the coming three years.
The problem with in-flight turbulence
Inflight turbulence is a common occurrence, and it can range from mild to severe. Mild turbulence is generally not a problem, but severe turbulence can cause injuries to passengers and crew members, and it can also damage aircraft.
The phenomenon can have a significant impact on airline operations. It can cause delays, cancellations, and injuries. In some remote cases, it can even lead to accidents.
The impact on airline operations is increasing due to a number of factors, including climate change, which is causing more extreme weather events.
Some of the potential impacts and considerations are as follows:
- Injuries to passengers and crew members
- Damage to aircraft
- Delays and cancellations of flights
- Increased costs for airlines
- Loss of confidence in air travel by passengers
Recent in-flight incidents
Some recent incidents involving encounters with areas of severe turbulence include:
March 8, 2023: A United Airlines flight from Denver to Honolulu was diverted to Portland, Oregon, after experiencing severe turbulence. Several passengers were injured, including one who suffered a broken ankle.
February 25, 2023: A Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles was forced to make an emergency landing in Salt Lake City. Several passengers were injured during the encounter, including one who suffered a concussion.
January 20, 2023: A Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to San Diego was diverted to Oakland, California, after encountering severe turbulence. Several passengers were injured, including one who suffered a broken nose.