Fresh plane turbulence warning sign as experts share dangers after man's death

Aircraft seats.
Airplanes are designed to withstand rough weather conditions -Credit:Getty

A warning sign has been revealed about the dangers of plane turbulence. One person has been confirmed dead and around 20 others injured after a flight from London to Singapore experienced extreme turbulence while entering the airspace of an severe tropical thunderstorm.

The Mirror reports the Singapore Airlines flight - #SQ321 - was forced to make an emergency landing in Thailand due to the adverse weather. Following the tragic death, the airline issued a statement to confirm the plane "encountered severe turbulence en-route" and there were "injuries and one fatality on board the Boeing 777-300ER".

A spokesperson stated: "Singapore Airlines offers its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased. Our priority is to provide all possible assistance to all passengers and crew on board the aircraft.

"We are working with the local authorities in Thailand to provide the necessary medical assistance, and sending a team to Bangkok to provide any additional assistance needed. We will provide regular updates on our Facebook and X accounts."

With heavy rain forecast during the week, meteorologists have predicted some thundery weather in their forecasts. Naturally, this can lead to difficult flying conditions for any aircraft - but what causes turbulence and how dangerous can it be?

The Mirror explored this topic which has been detailed below.

What is turbulence?

Airplane sign.
It is heavily advised by experts to stay in your seat and keep your seatbelt on -Credit:Getty

In layman's terms, turbulence is unstable air movement caused by wind speed and direction changes. This means a plane can be affected by hilly terrain, mountain ranges, extreme hot or cold weather and thunderstorms.

Turbulence can typically cause a sharp drop in altitude that can feel like a lifting feeling by plane passengers. Smaller passengers can be more at risk of being impacted by turbulence as they are more affected by changes to wind speed.

This turbulence can be invisible to both the naked eye and also the weather radar, so it can be difficult to predict by airlines. Meteorologist Jennifer Stroozas told The New York Times, turbulence is "definitely one of the more challenging things to predict."

Is turbulence on the rise?

According to a 2023 study by scientists at Reading University, turbulence is currently on the rise due to climate change. This occurs due to elevated carbon dioxide emissions that affect air currents.

Dr Paul Williams, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Reading, found clear air turbulence - which happens more frequently in the winter and at high altitudes - could triple by the end of the century.

This research found turbulence of all kinds - light, moderate, severe and extreme - is increasing worldwide and bumpier flights should be expected in the coming years.

Is turbulence dangeous?

Turbulence is a common occurrence and is - most of the time - not considered dangerous. On rare occasions, however, it can lead to injuries and potential fatalies.

Commercial pilot Patrick Smith, who runs AskthePilot blog, told the Washington Post last year: "Turbulence is normal; it's part of the sky... Every flight every day encounters some form of rough air. For crews, by and large, we look at it as a comfort issue, not necessarily a safety issue."

Pilots have been trained to understand turbulence risks and routes are designed to reduce these risks. In some cases, however, injuries and even death can sadly occur.

It is heavily encouraged by experts to stay in your seat and keep your seatbelt on as much as you can when flying to reduce the risk of injury.

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