In their Guidance for Turbulence Management report IATA emphasise the importance of seat-belt use by passengers, as well as an effective seat-belt protocol for airlines. Industry experts and regulators around the world agree that ensuring seat belts are fastened at all times can significantly reduce the risk of injury when aircraft encounter unexpected turbulence.
While some turbulence is predictable, one of the most dangerous types of turbulence to passengers and crew is “invisible” and most likely to occur when skies are clear.
Because of the requirements of their duties onboard, crew are especially vulnerable. IATA therefore emphasises that Cabin Personnel must make sure that they are properly fastened to a seat as soon as possible, even if that means abandoning other portions of their checklist when turbulence is most violent, like checking that all passenger’s have fastened their belts.
Accidents affect crew seriously and can even incapacitate them. Flight attendants aboard the recent United Airlines flight from Denver to Billings, Montana, which encountered turbulence on descent, had to be hospitalised for days with serious head injuries.
Crew are on board to take charge of situations which arise, and have gone to heroic steps to ensure the well-being of their passengers, but they have also been seriously injured to the extent that they are unable to carry-out their duties. As I’ve said in other posts on Safety, passengers must take their responsibility for their safety onboard. Keeping seat-belts fastened throughout the flight, even when the skies are clear (perhaps especially when the skies are clear) is a simple but very effective safety measure.
IATA will be covering Turbulence Management along with other critical Cabin Safety factors at their upcoming Cabin Operations Safety Conference this May 20-22 in Madrid. Flight Chic and the Runway Girl Network will be there to cover the proceedings.