Boeing might be on the brink of solving the problem of turbulence
A partway bumpy ride is an inevitable aspect of any plane journey, whether you’re travelling within the UK or on an arduous long-haul flight.
But Boeing might be on the brink of solving the problem of turbulence once and for all.
The aviation giant will next year test out a technology that will enable planes to spot clear-air turbulence from a long-range distance.
Light detection and ranging technology (lidar) will be fitted to aircraft in the trials.
Turbulence can be unsettling for nervous flyers but Boeing has made a breakthrough
This will emit laser light from the nose of the plane, monitoring weather conditions up to 10 miles away.
Pilots can therefore avoid rapid change in wind speeds and turbulence, circumventing the bumpy path ahead.
Boeing program’s lead investigator Stefan Bieniawski told Wired: “We expect to be able to spot clear-air turbulence more than 60 seconds ahead of the aircraft, or about 10 miles, giving the crew enough time to secure the cabin and minimize the risk of injuries.”
The laser works by reflecting light in segments, measuring wind speed at intervals along the length of it.
Turbulence: The new laser technology can spot clear-air turbulence from 10 miles away
If successful, the concept could be rolled out across commercial airlines around the world.
The project is a joint collaboration with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
There have been several recent incidents in the past few months of passengers being injured from extreme bumps in the flight path.
Due to the effects of climate change, incidents of turbulence are expected to increase.
Turbulence: Boeing will trial the new technology on planes in 2018
While turbulence can be unsettling for nervous flyers, the chances of it causing a plane to crash are extremely rare.
Turbulence is classified as either light, moderate, severe or extreme.
Very extreme conditions combined with pilot error have caused crashes in the past, including one incident in 1966 when a plane detoured to Mt Fuji.
But severe and extreme turbulence are so rare that most pilots will never encounter them throughout their career.