Is Turbulence Worse on a Private Jet?
One of the questions that’s been bothering me for quite some time now is whether or not turbulence is worse on a private jet than it would be on an aircraft carrier. I’ve also wondered if there were any differences between commercial and military aircraft. Is there really a big difference? Let’s find out.
First of all, what is turbulence? Turbulence is the speed of the air going across the airplane. In other words, it’s the speed at which the wind is blowing; not the speed at which the plane is flying. It can affect the aircraft even when the pilots are highly experienced; however, it can also be severe when it’s happening to a new pilot.
There are some aircraft manufacturers that specifically address the issue of turbulence. They design their planes so that they will fly in less turbulence. Airlines, on the other hand, don’t pay too much attention to it. Here’s why.
Most airlines fly from one coast to another, and from one country to another. In order to reduce the risk of passengers being motion Sick on short flights, Airline companies follow a pattern of taking off from west coast airports (or, east coast airports if it’s across the Atlantic) at approximately the same time every week. They take off from east coast airports (or west coast airports if it’s across the Pacific) at roughly the same time every week. The airlines don’t put together a plan for when the pilots might get motion Sick; therefore, they never prepare for it. Consequently, when they do get sick, it can be severe enough to keep a passenger out of the cockpit. If this happened to me, I don’t know how long I would be out of the cockpit.
Private jets, by contrast, don’t fly from west to east coast airports. Instead, they fly from east to west. That’s why it is so much more likely that a passenger will become motion Sick on a private jet. Since the pilots can’t keep their eyes on the horizon to see if there are any objects in the sky above them; they must rely on instruments located in the Cock or Main Chute. The Flight Computer in the Cock is the only device that can accurately calculate the vertical and horizontal positions of all objects in flight above it.
As air travel increases in speed, the vertical and horizontal positions of nearly all of the aircraft’s components can change in split seconds. The increase in pressure also adds to the amount of variation in these vital components. In addition, many commercial pilots report that as the aircraft begins to accelerate, the turbulence increases. In a private jet, this happens because there is not a large interior volume (as there is in an airplane) to buffet. When you add all of these factors together, the increased turbulence can greatly impact the overall safety of a flight.
There are some theories that suggest that the turbulence is actually increased by the airflow that is created while the aircraft is moving at higher speeds. The faster the aircraft is going, the faster the gasses within the aircraft are compressed. When this occurs, the pressure increases with the square of the increase in gasses. Since there is not enough pressure to counter the increase in pressure, this can create a greater amount of turbulence.
While there are many theories relating to why this occurs, none of them have been proven. What has been noted though, is that when a jet is cruising at certain times, turbulence does seem to occur more often. When this happens, the pilots can look up on the instrument panel to determine where the main cause of the issue is. This can help them avoid an area where this problem seems to be more prevalent.