• 7 things to do during airplane turbulence

    7 things to do during airplane turbulence - nigeria newspapers online
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    By Godfrey George

    Air turbulence is an experience all too familiar to air travellers. The plane is going on well for one minute. The next thing, there is a bump here and a shake there, as the plane quakes in all directions.

    Although turbulence is a common part of air travel, it is less unpleasant. In fact, considerable research has shown that turbulence is one of the biggest causes of flight anxiety, as many passengers take it as a sign the plane is going down.

    Turbulence can be frightening. However, the reality, according to flight experts, is that it is no cause for concern.

    It’s a common part of flying that many people experience regularly. Even when it’s most severe, according to experts, turbulence is rarely dangerous although when severe, it may cause injuries to passengers and cabin crew.

    Recently, an Air Peace flight from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, to Lagos State, experienced turbulence on a Monday afternoon.

    A rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, who was aboard the plane and shared his experience on the flight, narrated how passengers prayed and called on the pilot.

    Sharing a video from the episode, he wrote, “The funniest part of the turbulence in our Air Peace Uyo-Lagos flight this afternoon was when some passengers shouted and referred to the captain as ‘driver’.

    “Someone screamed, ‘Driver, what is going on?’ Another passenger kept calling on ‘the God of Bishop David Oyedepo (General Overseer of Living Faith Church Worldwide’.

    “The truth is that most of us onboard were worried or scared, even those of us who tried to be calm were agitated at some point when it appeared as if things were going out of control. It was really terrible.

    “It is easy to laugh at those screaming, but pray you don’t experience this degree of turbulence,” he said.

    Even as a frequent flyer, Effiong noted that the episode was scary.

    Another flier, who shared his experience on a popular forum, Nairaland, noted that the weather on that day was particularly terrible, as the source said the flight from Abuja to Yola, the Adamawa State capital, also had the same issue.

    “It was the exact experience on the Abuja-Yola flight that we almost crash landed. And while we were narrating our experience on Twitter, people who were on a Sokoto bound plane from Abuja all said they experienced the same thing that they thought it was their last day,” the source said.

    An expert pilot, Robert Graef, in an Airbus publication, noted that flyers had to be calm during turbulence so as not to increase anxiety.

    Know that planes withstand turbulence

    Proffering steps to take during turbulence, a safety professional, Bernard Okolo, in an interview with our correspondent, said passengers should focus more on the fact that airplanes are built to withstand turbulence.

    “First and foremost, [passengers] understand that the airplane is designed to fly through turbulence.

    “Nothing is wrong with the aircraft. Pilots are highly trained professionals and know how to expertly handle turbulence. There are various reasons turbulence occurs: wind, changes in air temperature, thunderstorms, etcetera,” he stated.

    A flight attendant with Ibom Air, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of her company’s policy, said she believed that the best way to tackle fear was to understand it.

    According to her, learning about the science of turbulence can put anxious passengers at ease.

    She noted in an emailed response, “Air turbulence is a common occurrence. Focus on facts to avoid escalating into a state of worry.

    “It is a helpful technique to decrease travellers’ anxiety by helping them understand the effects of turbulence.

    “In most instances, turbulence appears more detrimental than it may seem. The industry should communicate the rhetoric that ‘turbulence should be expected as opposed to dreaded.’”

    Practise meditation and deep breathing

    Okolo noted that practising breathing exercises would help during air turbulence.

     “Meditate or take a deep breath to help slow your breathing,” she advised, adding that short meditations could help passengers feel more mindful and comfortable during a flight.

    An Ecuador-based flight attendant with Eastern Airlines, Doménica Jiménez, in an Airbus report, stated that a tip that helped in her career in the skies was slow breathing.

    “Being mindful of my breathing by slowing inhaling and exhaling has been a game changer. It helps me to stay calm during turbulence and also do my job,” she added.

    An American meditation company, Headspace, has partnered a number of air carriers; including JetBlue Airways and United Airlines, to provide in-flight guided relaxation.

    Find distractions

    The flight attendant from Ibom Air said, “Take advantage of the time you have during the flight to read a book, listen to music, or make that to-do list.

    “Explore the movies and shows on your seatback screen or download your own entertainment before the flight. If you’re travelling with a companion, talk to them about something unrelated to the flight. The idea is to keep your brain focused.”

    Okolo, on his part, said passengers should try to make sure they find distractions when they notice their minds wavering toward the turbulence.

    Pay attention to announcements

    Okolo stated that while trying to remove attention from the flight, passengers must look for a way to listen to the pilot and other flight officials for announcements.

    He explained that there must be effective communication between the cockpit and the cabin.

    “Efficient coordination and communication between flight crew and cabin crew is essential to safely manage turbulence. It begins with using common terminology in precise and specific communication, both before and during the flight,” he added.

    The source from Ibom Air stated that there was a terminology known as the turbulence scale.

    “Turbulence is classified into three categories. To ease identification, each category is based on the impact on the aircraft’s trajectory and the effects felt in the cabin.

    “Using common terminology ensures that the flight crew and the cabin crew share the same understanding of the level of turbulence expected. This enables the cabin crew to perform the appropriate duties in order to effectively manage the cabin during turbulence,” the source noted.

    Ask for a seat change

    The source added that a passenger could ask flight officials for a seat change if he noticed that the plane was not full or felt uncomfortable or unsafe on a seat.

    Okolo said passengers must remember that only professionals were in control of the aircraft.

     “I have encountered passengers during my training, whose responses to turbulence ranged from mild to severe anxiety. My ideal technique is reassurance. Passengers want to know that they are safe,” he added.

    According to Airbus, the best seats for turbulence are in front or at the wings of the plane.

    “The impact of turbulence is felt less in front of the plane because it’s beyond the centre of gravity on the aircraft. Alternatively, turbulence is also less noticeable near the wings of the plane because the wings allow the plane to stay balanced,” the report added.

    Understand why turbulence occurs

    An Airbus report in February 2022 noted that turbulence could be caused by a number of things.

    “It may be air in the atmosphere, jet streams that trigger changes in the wind, flying above mountains or tall buildings that change the wind flow in the sky above, or something else that can cause the airflow to change. Regardless of the cause, it’s important to remember that turbulence is caused by a change in the airflow and not because something is wrong with the aircraft itself,” it noted.

    Okolo, on his part, noted that understanding the ‘why’ behind turbulence would aid reactions to it.

    He said, “A lot of the anxiety around turbulence comes from people assuming the worst and thinking that turbulence will cause their plane to crash.

    “In reality, even the most severe turbulence almost never causes plane crashes. The last time turbulence was determined as the main cause of a plane crash was in 1966, over 50 years ago.”

    Airbus added that since 1966, modern-day engineering and advanced technology had given pilots a better understanding of when to expect turbulence, allowing them to take alternative routes to avoid it.

    “What’s more; improved designs of modern-day aircraft have allowed the planes of today to better deal with and be less susceptible to the effects of turbulence,” it added.

    According to America’s Federal Aviation Administration, on average, 33 injuries caused by turbulence are recorded every year in the US (2002–2018).

    When you consider that more than 959 million passengers fly to and from the US each year, you get a great understanding of how small the danger of turbulence really is.

    Buckle up

    “While it’s important to stick to the rules and fasten your seatbelt any time that the seatbelt sign is on, it’s especially important to keep it fastened during periods of turbulence, regardless of how light or extreme the turbulence may seem,” the source from Ibom Air added.

    The source added that although turbulence was not going to force anyone entirely out of their seat, they might momentarily lift up and shift from side to side.

    “Fastening your seatbelt will minimise the impact of this and ensure that you don’t hurt yourself or those around you,” the source added.

    The most effective way, according to Airbus, to prevent injuries during turbulence is to keep seatbelts fastened.

    “It is, therefore, key that passengers are aware of this and encouraged to keep their seatbelts fastened at all times.

    “Passengers must be made aware that they are obliged to comply with the ‘Fasten seatbelt’ sign at all times.

    “Encouraging passengers to keep their seatbelts fastened at all times when they are seated and ensuring that the cabin and galleys remain tidy during the flight is the most effective means to limit the risk of injuries to passengers and cabin crew in the case of unexpected turbulence,” the publication added.


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