Indian Air Force

Turbulence: Simple Yet Complex Mystery To Solve

Turbulence is a phenomenon, which occurs at high altitudes. Very little of which is enough to vibrate any aircraft. Turbulence, most of the time, is not dangerous. However, it can damage the aircraft parts if the pilot does not control the plane properly. Generally, modern-day fighter aircraft and even airline airplanes are designed with the consideration of its effects in the air. However, fighter jets are made unstable to perform better maneuvers in the combat situation. As a result, sometimes, turbulence can cause serious effects on the aircraft.

What Is Turbulence?

Turbulence is the flow of the fluids in a vortex-like form. Generally, the behavior of fluids under turbulence is difficult to study. But an understanding of this phenomenon is important. This is required for the design of aircraft and can affect lives. Turbulence is the unorganized flow of fluid, unlike laminar flow where fluid flows in a defined manner. This unstable turbulent flow of air can vibrate the aircraft very heavily at high altitudes.

Why Turbulence Is Caused?

In every flowing fluid, there are two opposing forces: Inertia and Viscosity. Inertia is the tendency of a fluid to keep moving while viscosity is a property, which restricts the flow making the fluid laminar instead. This is the reason why the turbulent flow of air is observed at only high altitudes. The air is thin comparably, which has less viscosity making it more prone to turbulent flow. Hence, at higher altitudes and higher speeds, pilots face turbulence.

Scientists have gained significant knowledge about turbulence. However, it seems to be not enough. This phenomenon depends on many other factors. For example, the motion of the atmosphere is affected by gravity and the rotation of the earth. Taking account of all these factors is not an easy task. As a result, it has not been possible until now to construct an aircraft that experiences zero turbulence. However, it can be minimized up to much extent.

Do Helicopters Also Face Turbulence?

Helicopters can face turbulence, but it is extremely less compared to fighter aircraft. Helicopters do not fly at high altitudes and their speed is very less. Another reason is that the rotor of the helicopter helps it to remain stable, unlike fixed wing fighter aircraft. Due to higher speeds, the wings of fighter aircraft experience a much larger effect of turbulence. As a result, airplanes are more sensitive to the disturbances in air.

It Is Not Dangerous If Pilot Is Well Aware And Experienced

However modern-day aircraft are capable of handling such disturbances in the air, studies are in continuation to minimize their effect. In addition to that, pilots are trained to avoid areas, which can be affected more. This is where experience comes in handy. Experience helps the pilot to avoid the turbulent areas based on their previous experiences. However, if we talk of fighter aircraft, the pilot is not much affected by turbulence. Most of the time, they do not even notice it. Passengers in an airline aircraft mostly experience this in the air. That is why they are being told to buckle themselves up during the flight.

Hopefully, in the future, we can come up with a technology to construct the aircraft that will be ineffective of this phenomenon. That will also be helpful in reducing the load from the wings of the aircraft while at high speeds or in combat. As a result, pilots will be controlling the aircraft more efficiently while maneuvering. Till then, keep enjoying your flight with turbulence!


Yash Gupta

Hello everyone, Myself Yash, a student trying to share thoughts with you. I Like to read about Military and stuff.

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