Can climate change increase the risk of airplane crashes?

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2019 | Personal Injury |

For years now, scientists, former vice presidents and others have warned everyone about the dangers of climate change. In fact, the temperature of the planet has increased in recent decades, and many blame it on carbon dioxide emissions created by the vehicles on the ground and in the air.

Jets reportedly create around 13 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions on the planet. As they crisscross the skies, their fuel continues to add to the problem. Some might say this is a self-perpetuating problem since the increase in these emissions is also creating a dangerous situation in the skies.

What is clear air turbulence?

When a jet encounters the space between a slow-moving jet stream and a fast one, it encounters turbulence. Unlike weather-related turbulence, these are unseen and not predictable. Radar cannot pick them up either in order to warn these large planes of their presence. For many people, flying in a metal tube at 30,000 to 40,000 feet is daunting enough, but knowing that it’s possible to encounter unseen wind shear at this height is downright frightening.

As if that wasn’t enough, the strength of such turbulence appears to be intensifying. Higher global temperatures also affect the total weight a plane can carry and the routes it can travel due to changing wind patterns. More lightning also endangers air travel. If you fly across the Atlantic Ocean in the wintertime, the chances of encountering increased turbulence increases anywhere from 40 to 170 percent.

What this means for travelers

Thousands of times a year, planes encounter turbulence strong enough to cause injury. Pilots receive training regarding keeping their planes in the air under these circumstances, but it only takes one instance to cause a catastrophic crash. As things are now, passengers and crew still suffer injuries as planes travel through this phenomenon. The numbers could only rise as the situation worsens.

Perhaps making a bad situation worse is the fact that pilots now fly in convoluted patterns in order to avoid clear air turbulence when they can. This increases fuel consumption and the chance of coming too close to another aircraft in flight.

If you suffer injuries or lose someone you love in flight due to turbulence or an airplane crash, you may have legal options. Airlines owe you a duty to keep you safe, and when that doesn’t happen, it may be possible to pursue compensation for the damages you incur.


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