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Researchers on the Way to Reducing Turbulence

by Megan Hill

Oct 8, 2016
Features

No one likes turbulence, but it seems like an unavoidable aspect of flying. Still, scientists may be on the way to reducing or even eliminating the unpleasantness of a bumpy ride by using data already collected by planes as they fly.

Currently, planes try to avoid it by using reports submitted by pilots who have already flown through a bouncy area. However, that technique is inaccurate and unreliable.

Now, scientists at the Faculty of Physics at Poland’s University of Warsaw have discovered that information needed to detect turbulence is collected currently by planes as they fly. Carriers using the Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay program transmit information about the bumpiness, but the data gets sent out infrequently because it’s expensive and the airlines are still relying on the older method of pilot reports.

“A lack of sufficiently accurate and up-to-date information not only exposes aircraft and their passengers to danger, it also restricts the development of theories and tools for forecasting turbulence,” said researcher Jacek Kopec.

Researchers were able to test for turbulence and got readings from the airplane every four seconds and were able to develop detection algorithms to help spot areas with a margin for error of about 20 kilometers, which could give aircraft about 100 seconds more to easily avoid bumps.

The team said the technique could be implemented with no significant investment.

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