In-Flight Horror: Serious Turbulence Injuries Raise Questions About Boeing and Global Warming Risk

Roughly 40 passengers aboard an Air Europa flight from Spain to Uruguay are now dealing with the aftermath of extreme turbulence experienced on the trip.

Is Climate Change Affecting Commercial Flights?

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Climate scientists are concerned about the uptick in reports of turbulence beyond the normal flight expectation on a flight.

When Turbulence Becomes Dangerous

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Turbulence is normal and generally not a cause for concern, but sometimes it can become serious enough to cause injuries to people aboard aircraft. Passengers who are not wearing seatbelts are at the highest risk for turbulence-related injuries.

What Causes Turbulence?

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Turbulence is caused by friction between the air and the ground, experts say. It is often unavoidable, but pilots typically know ahead of time to prepare passengers and flight staff for the possibility of turbulence.

The Impact of Weather

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But turbulence can also be caused by weather changes, which is why climate scientists wonder if the recent increase in incidents is related to climate change.

Air Europa Flight to Uruguay Under Investigation

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The most recent affected flight was traveling from Spain to Uruguay when the plane hit unexpected turbulence. According to passengers on board, the seatbelt sign had been turned on by the pilot, indicating that everyone should have been wearing their seatbelts for safety reasons.

Passengers Injured

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The flight experienced about twenty minutes of mild turbulence before taking a sudden drop of over 1,300 feet very quickly. Passengers who had disregarded instructions to fasten their seatbelts were thrown into the air, some hitting the ceiling of the plane.

A Quarter of Injuried Passengers Hospitalized

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As a result, the flight made an emergency landing in Brazil, where injured passengers were able to receive medical treatment. Some passengers received skull and neck fractures. Thankfully, no one was killed.

Questions About the Manufacturer

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At this time, the cause of the turbulence has not been determined, but the plane involved was manufactured by Boeing, which has some people worried about potential safety issues.

Boeing’s Whistleblowers

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Whistleblowers have come out multiple times in recent weeks and months to reveal shortcuts that Boeing has allegedly taken in manufacturing its planes.

Past Issues with Boeing Planes

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Earlier this year, a Boeing plane was mid-flight when a door was ripped off the body of the plane. No one was injured, but passengers spoke out at the time about the harrowing experience.

Child Among Injured Passengers

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On this latest flight, passengers reported dozens of injuries. One passenger said her two-year-old child was wedged into the ceiling of the plane. Thankfully, the toddler did not sustain any serious injuries and only had minor bruising, according to his mother, who is a doctor.

Turbulence on the Rise

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In May, a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore hit major turbulence as well. Some of those passengers also sustained serious injuries. Boeing was the manufacturer of that plane, too, which ultimately landed in Bangkok.

A Deeper Issue

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While many are questioning the safety of Boeing planes, especially after the recent incidents, there are those who worry that a much larger problem is behind the increase in flights experiencing severe turbulence.

Is Global Warming to Blame?

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According to the latest in climate research, global warming could be to blame for more frequent turbulence events, and it’s only expected to get worse. Experts don’t believe the uptick will ground flights in the future, but the average flight passenger could start experiencing two to three times as much turbulence.

Research Points to Climate Change

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A 2019 study claimed that impacts from climate change have already caused more turbulence to happen during flights. Scientists pointed to a rise in atmospheric temperatures as the major cause.

Buttigieg Weighs In

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In an interview with CNBC, United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg emphasized the importance of technological advancements for identifying turbulence.

“Our Climate is Evolving”

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“Our climate is evolving,” said Secretary Buttigieg. “Our policies and our technology and our infrastructure have to evolve accordingly, too.”

The Safety of Flying

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As for people worried about flying in the future because of these events, experts say flying is still safe. Airline officials urge passengers to wear their seatbelts at all times when on a plane, but especially when the pilot turns on the “fasten seatbelt” signs.

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For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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