How IATA wants to avoid injuries by turbulence


Montreal - Again and again, flight attendants and passengers are injured because of the severe turbulence. That could be changed by better weather forecasts, thinks IATA.

Even though airplanes can handle heavy turbulences without any problems, there are always injuries on flights because of it. These are mostly crew members and passengers thrown through the cabin. According to statistics by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an airline with a fleet of 100 aircraft is experiencing 30 to 50 incidents of turbulence per year resulting in casualties.

"Turbulence is the main reason for injuries during flights," said Gilberto Lopez Meyer, Senior Vice President for Safety and Flight Operations at IATA. Therefore, the association wants to act now, but there are still not enough instruments to avoid turbulence. "Weather reports of thunderstorms and other phenomena are often not accurate enough, Although technology already exists that allows better predictions, there is no global solution," says Lopez Meyer.

Real-time data should help

IATA thinks that it should change. The association pursues two approaches.

In close cooperation with many global airlines and industry representatives, we are currently creating the framework conditions for a platform and database,
says Lopez Meyer.
"Its purpose is to help pilots, dispatchers and meteorologists plan and avoid turbulence. The availability of real-time data is important. In 2018, the platform will be ready and officially launched in 2019,"
he also notes.

Avianca incident, 2016, injured cabin crew
Avianca incident, 2016, injured cabin crew

For this purpose, IATA announced to enter into a cooperation with the World Meteorological Organization WMO. A corresponding cooperation agreement was signed. The WMO is already collecting real-time data on weather conditions such as wind or temperature. But currently it only works together with 40 airlines and that is not enough for a comprehensive coverage around the world.

More safety, less fuel

These two approaches may allow airlines to significantly reduce the number of people injured by turbulence. In addition to the safety aspect, there is another reason for better weather forecasts: they can also optimize fuel consumption, which in turn saves money and reduces carbon emissions.