What the FAA is Doing to Keep Passengers Safe During Turbulence

Monday, August 9, 2021

Clear air turbulence is air movement created by atmospheric pressure, jet streams, air around mountains, cold or warm weather fronts, or thunderstorms. It can be unexpected and can happen when the sky appears to be clear. Turbulence can give an airplane a sudden jolt that can injure passengers and flight crewmembers who aren't buckled in.

The FAA has a long history of working with operators to prevent turbulence injuries. These efforts focus on:

Reducing the likelihood of commercial aircraft experience turbulence.

Increased usability and amount of information

  • Working to modernize the Pilot Report System (PIREPS) where pilots communicate weather conditions.
  • Improving automation capabilities to enable pilots and air traffic controllers to digitally enter and share reports, rather than having to do so verbally.
  • Encouraging pilots to file more reports.

Using more data in dispatching

  • Training for air traffic controllers about the importance of proactively soliciting and disseminating PIREPs.
  • Air traffic control using automation and data displays to route aircraft around weather systems.
  • Promoting real-time information sharing between pilot and dispatcher, and including turbulence in weather briefings.

Lowering the risk of injury to passengers and flight crew when a plane does experience turbulence.

  • Working with air carriers to design training program to prevent or mitigate turbulence injuries to flight attendants .
  • Encouraging carriers to make cabin modifications such as handholds or restraints that increase stability for passengers moving through the cabin.

Improving passenger education to increase seatbelt compliance.

  • Encouraging air carriers develop and implement practices to improve passenger compliance with seating and seatbelt instructions from crewmembers such as:
    - Video presentations.
    - Increase promptness of announcements when turbulence occurs.
  • Increasing promptness and clarity when flight crew communicates turbulence risks.