Clear Air Turbulence (CAT) is responsible for multiple in-flight incidents resulting in many injured passengers every year, some of them even with serious injuries requiring hospitalization. Whether the incidents are a result of climate changes or increased operations and routes through crossing jet streams, it is a serious risk to passengers and crew onboard. A summary of CAT-related incidents that happened in the past years can be found on Aviation Voice website.
While it is always recommended to keep your seatbelt fastened during the flight, it is not always mandatory or desirable. When the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign is turned off, most passengers take it as a call to unbuckle. But they don’t have to. Better education and instruction may help passengers to be more aware of the risks of turbulence which may suddenly appear during the flight. Even if you’re loosen your seatbelt while seated, it is still safer than entirely unfastening your seatbelt.
For flight crews, awareness and recognition is the best tool to minimize the risk of encountering CAT. Awareness of jet streams in the vicinity, flight level, weather conditions and changes in wind speed and direction may help pilots to better predict if there’s an increased risk of encountering severe turbulence.
CAT is also a known cause of potential aircraft environment-induced upsets, including mountain waves, windshear, microbursts and wake turbulence. Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT) refreshes the pilots knowledge on these risks and teaches the necessary skills to prevent and manage potential environment-induced upsets.