We’ve all been on those flights when the seatbelt sign comes on and the turbulence starts. You look to the person next to you, you hold on tight to the armrest or you close your eyes to try and ignore it. But really, how dangerous can turbulence be? We’ve heard stories like the United Airlines flight from Newark to Beijing that was forced to turn around after turbulence injured five flight attendants or the flight from Denver to Billings that experienced extreme turbulence and caused a woman to crack the ceiling with her head.

Stories like sure make us think twice about the real safety of flying. But we’re here to break some common misconceptions about turbulence and let you know the truth about turbulence.

  1. Injuries happen, but are rare

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there are only about 30 to 60 cases of injury from turbulence each year. Of these injuries, about two thirds of them are from flight attendants, who are up walking around the most. This leaves 20 traveler injuries caused from turbulence. When you think of the 800 million travelers who fly each year, this amount is miniscule.

  1. Pilots know when it is going to happen

In most cases, pilots are aware of potential bumps in the flight path. Based off of weather reports, cockpit radar and even reports from planes in the area. But clear turbulence can be more difficult to detect as it doesn’t appear on radar or weather reports.

turbulence, airline radar

  1. Pilots are trained to fly in it

Today our planes are built with safety in mind and our pilots are trained to fly in such conditions. Knowing to change speed and alter altitude, pilots know how to search for the smoothest ride.

Truth About Turbulence
Watch the Mythbusters test out airplane boarding practices here

  1. Wearing your seatbelt makes a difference

Turbulence may occur without warning, so it is for you safety to keep you seatbelt fastened throughout the entire flight. As we’ve seen from the United flight from Denver to Billings, you can potentially be thrown from your seat if you aren’t buckled up.

airline seatbelt

  1. New technology may let us avoid turbulence

Airlines are currently testing new technology that uses ultraviolet laser that send pulses into the flight path ahead to detect turbulence. This new technology will hopefully be able to detect for the clear turbulence that is much harder to identify and prepare for.

Do you feel better knowing the truth about turbulence?