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Pilot Says Flights Over Atlantic Are Scary?  
User currently offlineWROORD From United States of America, joined Mar 2009, 957 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 47128 times:

I read an article in one of the papers on-line (not very reputable so I am not saying its name). The article has an interview with one of the pilots (employed by a major airline) who says that with the climate change flying over Atlantic is more scary than ever. The storms are uncontrollable and basically people deciding to go overseas should forget about smooth rides over there. I am not sure a real pilot would say such a thing? Pilots out there please advise.

41 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15749 posts, RR: 27
Reply 1, posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 47108 times:



Quoting WROORD (Thread starter):
The storms are uncontrollable and basically people deciding to go overseas should forget about smooth rides over there. I am not sure a real pilot would say such a thing? Pilots out there please advise.

I flew across the Atlantic and back in May, and the only bumps was some light chop over Ontario and the Irish Sea. The Atlantic generally has few storms and generally smooth air I think. The Pacific is another story though. And try flying across the Midwest during summer.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineSQA350 From Thailand, joined Apr 2007, 180 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 46841 times:

I would be very interested as well if this is true or not.
I can clearly feel the climate change down on earth, everything it seems has become more extreme, hot seasons get hotter, cold seasons get colder, storms and precipitation get stronger, lightning during storms are more frequent. Why wouldn't a pilot feel this up in the air as well?

I would really like to know if more pilots feel that flying has become more challenging due to the climate change.



"No more window seats in business class, sir!" "Any in economy? Yes? Then downgrade me!"
User currently offlineTommy767 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 6584 posts, RR: 9
Reply 3, posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 46757 times:



Quoting BMI727 (Reply 1):
And try flying across the Midwest during summer.

Tell me about it. i was on DL #715 from JFK-LAX last month and it was TERRIBLY turbulent over missouri. I was in F and never have sucked down a margharita so fast in my life.



"Folks that's the news and I'm outta here!" -- Dennis Miller
User currently offlineMpsrent From Canada, joined Apr 2006, 137 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 46586 times:

I can't comment for the south, Atlantic but I've crossed the north Atlantic many times to England and can't say that I've noticed anything of concern. From a turbulence perspective, I've found summer time flights over the Great Lakes from Ontario to Michigan or vice versa to provide some of the most significant turbuleance. I've had similar experiences over the Canadian Rockies.

Perhaps the article is nothing more than sensationalism?


User currently offlineSilentbob From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 2114 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 46031 times:



Quoting SQA350 (Reply 2):
I can clearly feel the climate change down on earth, everything it seems has become more extreme, hot seasons get hotter, cold seasons get colder, storms and precipitation get stronger, lightning during storms are more frequent. Why wouldn't a pilot feel this up in the air as well?

This past winter around here was one of the coolest in decades and this summer has been well below average temperature virtually every day. I've seen one big, intense thunderstorm in two years, otherwise the rains have been relatively mild.

Weather is cyclical, sometimes it is warmer, other times it is cooler. That's how you get an average temperature. You can't just take local observations and determine global climate from them.

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 1):
And try flying across the Midwest during summer.

I sat next to a woman that had never flown on the way to Vegas last month and she jumped every time we bumped around a little bit. That was one long flight.


User currently offlineDogBreath From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2008, 263 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 44187 times:



Quoting WROORD (Thread starter):
I am not sure a real pilot would say such a thing?

Yeah you're right on that one. Having flown internationally for over 24 years (most of it crossing the ITCZ), I've never heard one single fellow pilot say they're 'scared' of weather, or that they'd be scared to make a flight over the Atlantic or any other large body of ocean.

You mention that the newspaper isn't a reputable one, and there goes the story as far as I'm concerned. Remember that newspapers and news editors have only one job and that is to create sensational stories (or embellish what would be an otherwise boring piece), and unfortunately aviation comes in for some stick, especially when there's a spate of accidents/incidents.

"Climate change" - what a crock.



Truth, Honour, Loyalty
User currently offlineBorism From Estonia, joined Oct 2006, 431 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 43072 times:



Quoting Silentbob (Reply 5):
You can't just take local observations and determine global climate from them.

Exactly! And you can't ask one pilot or EVERY pilot and passenger one-by-one and from that make any conclusions about whether climate change made air travel more "rough" or "dangerous". It's all highly subjective!

We can theoreticize about it and we can make systematic studies to confirm or deny our theories, but doing survey or poll won't be of any help.

Of course it is always interesting to read professionals experiences, but doing scientific study about this would be even more interesting and productive.


User currently offlineL1011Lover From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 989 posts, RR: 14
Reply 8, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 41958 times:

I've been a flight attendant for 13 years now... and it definitely seems as if the weather has changed dramatically during the past decade. I can only speak for myself but the experience of a trans-atlantic flight or any trans-oceanic flight for that matter hasn't really changed.

What has changed surprisingly is the weather in Europe or also along the east coast of the US. I'm more scared - well I don't know if scared is the right word, also can't say I'm worried... let's say I'm more concerned during our short hops around Europe or let's say take-off from IAD (as an example, because that's where I'm flying to/from quite frequently) because this is where I've really noticed some changes. Especially during approach and landing and particularly during the summer time.

When I first started flying we were more concerned during the fall season when it starts getting more windy and the approach could get a little bumpier. But during the past couple of years the weather during the summer has become more and more of a problem. I can't even count the number of flights I was on that suffered from heavy weather related delays during the summer seasons in 2007 and 2008. At least 10 times last year that my IAD-FRA flight was held on the ground - along with all other flights - because of heavy thunderstorms and lightning along the east coast in our planned flight path without any possibility of changing course to avoid it. And the climbout is sometimes so bumby that we remain strapped to our jumpseats forever. 10 years ago we were out of our seats as soon as the plane climbed through 10.000 ft. Nowadays we stay seated until the seatbelt sign is turned off.

And if you believe it or not the worst turbulence I EVER experienced in 13 years of working as a flight attendant was last summer during approach to FRA. It was AWFUL! We were in the process of clearing up the galleys and making cabin secure checks, it was really bumpy and then all of a sudden we dropped a few hundred feet. It seemed like we were falling out of the sky. It took forever. I was able to hold on to the backrest of a jumpseat while one fellow flight attendant almost hit the ceiling in the galley. Some passengers who hadn't buckled up yet flew out of their seats. Luckily there were only very few minor injuries. It could have been a lot worse. This sort of turbulence during approach in what is actually known as temperate latitudes become more and more common. Thats what I fnd a lot more scary than crossing the pond in high altitudes.

On the other hand what makes flying across the Atlantic or Pacific or any big Ocean a little scary is the the distance to the next suitable airport should anything happen. I'm talking about things like medical emergencies, unruly passengers or - heaven forbids - an onboard fire. That's what makes us being extra cautious and extra attentive on trans-oceanic flights. You don't wanna have an inflight fire over the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of nowhere 2 hours from the next suitable airport. That's why we keep checking on our toilets every 15 minutes and that might explain why we get really angry and pissed when we catch a passenger smoking in the lav. They have absolutely no idea what they are doing. That's why it usually gets nasty when somebody is caught.

Think of it that way:We have 16 fire extinguishers on a 747 that makes up for almost 2 minutes of discharging duration. If the fire is not under control or completely OUT after 2 minutes, then let it burn and wait - all the while finding peace with yourself and the lord! If nothing is detected and no actions are taken one says a Boeing 747 is lost after 16 minutes from the point the fire started. That's what makes the differnce between trans-oceanic flying versus flying over land. On the other hand think about flying over the Himalayas... there is nowhere to land there either. In fact they have to take extra oxygen when passing over the area because you won't be able to descend to a safe altitude in case of a decompression with the usual amount of oxygen provided...

As a matter of fact we just don't belong up there in 35.000 ft. We still do it... and we LOVE it... and it's still the safest mode of transportation. Because everything possible is done to make it safe and keep it safe with back-ups for everything imaginable. 100% safety however is something that can never be achieved.

That said: SAFE FLYING TO EVERYONE  Smile

Best regards,
L1011Lover


User currently offlineFCO110 From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 80 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 41762 times:

I have flown over the Atlantic several times a year for the past 30 and only once did I have a bumpy flight for most of the flight and that was in the early 1990's Alitalia from Milan and it was winter time. These flights were nothing compared to flying this past April to PPT from LAX which was very bumpy the whole way. Friends who went three weeks earlier said the same. We were on an Airbus A340 and that was very uncomfortable.

User currently offlineSoon7x7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 41538 times:

Weather at low level would probably have changed slightly over the years as cities and urban sprawl have widened, cities like Atlanta actually create their own weather...but "climate change"...?...nothing has changed...weather patterns shift globally all the time, sometimes the patterns stall for months. Between surfing, sailing and flying gliders my whole life...especially Winter Surfing, I can attest that nothing has changed. I come out of the water numb on a February day in 2009, same as I did 35 years ago still feeling like a popsicle!...I wish for global warming, but not going to happen in my lifetime....It's Rubbish!  cold 

User currently offlineWarren747sp From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 1167 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 41389 times:

Maybe it should have read over the equator. I fly North South all the time from Europe to Africa or Asia to Australia and it is always turbulent by the equator.


747SP
User currently offlineBorism From Estonia, joined Oct 2006, 431 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 41202 times:



Quoting FCO110 (Reply 9):
We were on an Airbus A340 and that was very uncomfortable.

What does A340 has to do with anything?

I've been in ITCZ on both A340-300 and B767-400 and it doesn't matter when mother nature wants to throw you around in what particular type of aluminum can you're in.


User currently offlineFco110 From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 80 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 39607 times:



Quoting Borism (Reply 13):
Quoting FCO110 (Reply 9):
We were on an Airbus A340 and that was very uncomfortable.

What does A340 has to do with anything?

I've been in ITCZ on both A340-300 and B767-400 and it doesn't matter when mother nature wants to throw you around in what particular type of aluminum can you're in.

I find that the 340 feels like a string of spaghetti vs. a Boeing 777 or 767. They rattle. creak and shake far more than Boeing jets. I agree the weather is uncontrollable but the feeling to me is like being in a Fiat Panda vs. a BMW.


User currently offlineVirginFlyer From New Zealand, joined Sep 2000, 4575 posts, RR: 41
Reply 14, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 39447 times:



Quoting WROORD (Thread starter):
I read an article in one of the papers on-line (not very reputable so I am not saying its name).

Why not share the link? You've shared the gist of the story? Surely if you want us to discuss it, we should be able to see the article in question?

V/F



"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." - Bahá'u'lláh
User currently offlineCatseye From Australia, joined Oct 2008, 11 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 39211 times:



Quoting WROORD (Thread starter):
one of the pilots (employed by a major airline) who says that with the climate change flying over Atlantic is more scary than ever. The storms are uncontrollable

If a pilot feels fear going into a flight especially if they're to be carrying passengers they really shouldn't be a pilot on that aircraft. I wouldn't give that article any credibility based on that. Let alone the comment about storms being uncontrollable.


User currently offlineJAAlbert From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 1608 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 39110 times:

Flying approach into ABQ from the west in summer, over that vast plain of ancient lava beds, has got to be the wildest ride domestically. I often flew SAN to ABQ and the approach into ABQ was like a roller coaster without fail. I got to enjoy it after awhile and it was a hoot to watch other passengers turn white!

Quoting Fco110 (Reply 16):
I find that the 340 feels like a string of spaghetti

I've heard this said before about the 340. But, why the 340 and not the 330?


User currently offline727forever From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 793 posts, RR: 5
Reply 17, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 38810 times:



Quoting Soon7x7 (Reply 11):
Weather at low level would probably have changed slightly over the years as cities and urban sprawl have widened, cities like Atlanta actually create their own weather...but "climate change"...?...nothing has changed...weather patterns shift globally all the time, sometimes the patterns stall for months. Between surfing, sailing and flying gliders my whole life...especially Winter Surfing, I can attest that nothing has changed. I come out of the water numb on a February day in 2009, same as I did 35 years ago still feeling like a popsicle!...I wish for global warming, but not going to happen in my lifetime....It's Rubbish!

I agree with this and as others have said. Weather patterns are always changing. Humans are rather naive to think that we can pinpoint climate change based upon the very limited time that we have been tracking weather patterns. When the local news gives the record highs and lows for the day they are all over the chart. Many records were set in the 1920's or earlier.

As for the weather flying the Atlantic, it all depends on your latitude. The North Atlantic tends to have areas of turbulence caused by different flows of weather patterns aloft and on the surface. The convergence zones cause this turbulence. As far as frontal storms, the NAT tends to have much lower thunderstorms when it has them, tops below 25,000', but if you find yourself flying into one, it is quite violent as all of the energy is tightly packed down there. The good news, airliners flying the tracks are all above 28,000' so they avoid the storms.

The South Atlantic is another story. The Inter Tropic Convergence Zone runs from roughly 10*N to 5*S of the equator. The ITCZ has enormous thunderstorms nearly year round. One cell can be several hundred miles wide with tops over 60,000'. Turbulence inside of one of these is typically moderate to severe but they generally don't have hail, just extreme precipitation. Flight through one should be avoided, but if not possible they should be penetrated at a lower altitude where you can achieve greater buffet protection for the wing at the appropriate turbulence penetration speed. Also using radar, pilots should find the weakest portion of the storm for penetration. I personally have penetrated these monsters. It is not fun but at times you simply have no options. One night on the 727 it took us over 2 hours to punch through. We lost communications due to the static build up from the precipitation and turbulence was continuous moderate, but we made it through.

These weather patterns have been there as long as aviation. Ernest Gann wrote of these very weather patterns in "Fate is the Hunter." He experienced this flying South America in the 1930's and the NAT in the 1940's. In a capable airplane with knowledgeable pilots, you are quite safe operating oceanic routes.

727forever



727forever
User currently offlineRscaife1682 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 332 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 38491 times:

I fly over the Atlantic 3 times a month and since the beginning of year I have experienced mod turb or greater 3 times and that was all over canada  Smile...But I am not sure if this pilots is talking about the Atlantic over the equator?????

RYAN
FLTOPS


User currently offlineAviateur From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 1355 posts, RR: 11
Reply 19, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 38332 times:

It stands to reason that climate change *is* going to affect weather patterns, resulting in more frequent and severe episodes of storms/turbulence. And among pilots with 20-plus years of transoceanic experience, many have remarked on how conditions already are different.

"Scary", though? No, not yet. But he's on to something.


PS



Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
User currently offline44k From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 310 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 38002 times:

Just completed a round trip to BRU. The way over from ORD on a 777 was very smooth. The way back to JFK on a 75L quite turbulent, especially off the British aisles and over New England. Nothing out of the ordinary.

User currently offlineTharanga From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 1865 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 37702 times:

So we're all matching the anecdotal experience (or rather, given the probably presence of selection bias/confirmation bias, anecdotal interpretation) of some unnamed alleged pilot with our own anecdotal experience.

These don't seem like good approaches to take. But in any case, without the actual text of the original source, it's hard to really say much about the original source.


User currently offlineBrilondon From Canada, joined Aug 2005, 4252 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 37469 times:



Quoting SQA350 (Reply 2):
I would be very interested as well if this is true or not.
I can clearly feel the climate change down on earth, everything it seems has become more extreme, hot seasons get hotter, cold seasons get colder, storms and precipitation get stronger, lightning during storms are more frequent. Why wouldn't a pilot feel this up in the air as well?

I would really like to know if more pilots feel that flying has become more challenging due to the climate change.

Well if this past year was anything to look at. It proves you all wrong. I am sitting in my cottage in Ontario right now and it is summer, I think, with the weather feeling more like late September or early October. When are we going to get that extreme heat you are talking about.

Conversely when I came for Christmas to my parents place in December, it was not very cold but there was snow for Christmas like there use to be back in the 70's.

Quoting Mpsrent (Reply 4):
Perhaps the article is nothing more than sensationalism?

Bingo!!



Rush for ever; Yankees all the way!!
User currently offlineSpacecadet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3629 posts, RR: 12
Reply 23, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 34227 times:



Quoting 727forever (Reply 18):
Humans are rather naive to think that we can pinpoint climate change based upon the very limited time that we have been tracking weather patterns.

We know average global temperatures going back thousands of years... there are ways of measuring these things besides thermometers. (In much the same way an airplane can measure its altitude without a ruler.)

Quoting Brilondon (Reply 23):
Well if this past year was anything to look at. It proves you all wrong. I am sitting in my cottage in Ontario right now and it is summer, I think, with the weather feeling more like late September or early October. When are we going to get that extreme heat you are talking about.

So because where you personally live it is cooler than normal, that means it's cooler than normal everywhere? And that it's been cooler than normal everywhere, on average, for the last 2 decades or so?

Quoting Aviateur (Reply 20):
It stands to reason that climate change *is* going to affect weather patterns, resulting in more frequent and severe episodes of storms/turbulence. And among pilots with 20-plus years of transoceanic experience, many have remarked on how conditions already are different.

"Scary", though? No, not yet. But he's on to something.

I agree. It's a fact that the average yearly number of Atlantic storms has doubled since 1905. http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2007/hurricanefrequency.shtml

Though its only increased by 1/3 since about 1950. But it is still increasing, on average.

That should mean, though, that storms elsewhere should be less intense. I can't remember where I read this or what regions it said were covered, but I did read somewhere that some regions are now not having enough storms and are actually suffering from more severe droughts more frequently because of it. (Maybe the southwest of the US.) Storms act as sort of a planetary air conditioning system, taking energy from one place and depositing it somewhere else, so if the overall temperature of the planet is going up, that means weather patterns will change but overall storm activity should actually be decreasing.

But it's not decreasing evenly as the patterns change. It's likely that many areas will have fewer storms, but a few areas will have many more storms. The Atlantic seems to be one of those areas.



I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
User currently offlineAvConsultant From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 1360 posts, RR: 3
Reply 24, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 33958 times:



Quoting WROORD (Thread starter):
I read an article in one of the papers on-line (not very reputable so I am not saying its name)

Why would you start a thread about a questionable article while concealing the source?

Quoting Silentbob (Reply 5):
This past winter around here was one of the coolest in decades and this summer has been well below average temperature virtually every day.


This morning the Today Show had a report, June 2009 was the coolest June in the United States since 1880- something

Quoting DogBreath (Reply 6):
Remember that newspapers and news editors have only one job and that is to create sensational stories (or embellish what would be an otherwise boring piece), and unfortunately aviation comes in for some stick, especially when there's a spate of accidents/incidents.

In the United States, if there is nothing to report they make it up by embellishing or I meant to say building the story line. Once called out on a bogus story, scream Freedom of Speech. Not sure if that was the intentions or not, but definitely the practice today.


25 UALWN : I have only flown once into ABQ in the summer from the west (OAK-ABQ, no points for guessing the carrier), and, indeed, it was one of the wildest app
26 AirmaleJUM : I fly across the Atlantic at least 4 times a month. It's never bad. It only gets bad around Canada when they turn down towards the northeastern USA. I
27 ZKEOJ : sure they do - but have never done so at this speed! no doubt about it. And no doubt that we as humans bring that on to ourselves, at least at this u
28 Contrails15 : As for as turbulance goes I fly into LAS and PIT often and almost always with LAS mainly cuz of the mountains and for some reason its always bumpy com
29 L1011Lover : I flew in and out of LAS quite frequently during my years with Condor. The thing with LAS is mostly the thermal column of rising air which makes the
30 Brilondon : I don't live in Canada any more, but in answer to your question, yes. My personal opinion is that the earth is going through a normal pattern of chan
31 DLDTW1962 : I can say that flying out west from DTW is alot more bumpy in the spring and summer time then flying over the Atlantic. The only choppy air I have had
32 Rolfen : Did he say that the flights are scary (as you imply in the title) or just that the climate changes are? Because thats not the same thing.
33 BMI727 : I was flying DEN-TUS in a CRJ in summer of 04. We had bumps from the thermals (and maybe a bit of mountain wave) all the way. My dad just about stran
34 EXAAUADL : BS........................................ It really hasnt, and most changes are natural. This man made climate change stuff is nothing more than a f
35 Tharanga : OK, to take the topic seriously: it is probably impossible to confidently predict what impact climate change will have on turbulence as observed by ai
36 Speedbird128 : Have they ever been controllable?
37 UALWN : It's quite the opposite to religion. It's called science, and it's based on facts, observations and experiments, unlike religions.
38 Tsaord : O that was just lovely!!! OMG hahahahahaha. I have never flown over a large body of water before. Well does lake Michigan count?? But If I wan't to t
39 Aviateur : Well, it's also naive to believe that you can spend a hundred years dumping billions and billions of tons of carbon dioxide and other gasses into the
40 WeirdLinguist : Is our anecdotal "evidence" credible? Exhibit 1: Passengers sleep on airplances especially eastbound transatlantic flights which are usually at night
41 HAMAD : this reminds me of the flights i used to take between phoenix and sandiego in the summer. crossing that desert and starting to descend to phoenix was
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