IATA Adds New Participants In Turbulence-Mitigation Data Platform


For airlines, turbulence is a leading cause of injuries among passengers and crew members and leads to higher fuel costs and consequent carbon emissions as aircraft maneuver to avoid bumpy air. There are several strategies for evading turbulence, but the surest method is sharing data from other aircraft that have flown through the same airspace. And compiling algorithms for analyzing atmospheric conditions for their effects on turbulence gets better the more aircraft are involved in collecting the data.

To that end, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that Japan’s Air Nippon Airways (ANA) and WestJet have both signed on to the organization’s Turbulence Aware Platform. The announcement came today (June 6) at the 79th IATA Annual General Meeting in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Launched in 2018, Turbulence Aware collates the anonymized turbulence data from thousands of flights operated worldwide by airlines that participate in the program. “The real-time, accurate information enables pilots and dispatchers to choose optimal flight paths, avoiding turbulence and flying at optimum levels to maximize fuel efficiency and thereby reduce CO2 carbon emissions,” according to IATA.

Twenty different airlines currently participate in the platform, representing more than 1,900 aircraft providing data on a daily flight-by-flight basis. Last year the cooperative effort produced 31 million reports. Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, said, “Accurate and timely data empowers crews to improve safety by avoiding turbulence. The more contributors we have, the more everyone benefits. The addition of ANA and WestJet enhances our coverage especially in Asia Pacific and North America.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. What kind of turbulence? Is this write-up about aircraft wake (vortex) turbulence or about weather turbulence. Both types of turbulence require awareness and appropriate measures to ensure safe flying and “reduce CO2 carbon emissions”.

  2. As a flight instructor, I have given presentations explaining wingtip vortices and their silent threat and would enjoy reading about other pilots’ experiences. FAA studies were first conducted in the late 1960s when larger aircraft began to populate the airways. However, I believe that this topic remains not all that well understood by the pilot and ATC population. These FAA/NASA studies acknowledged that the heavier the aircraft, the stronger the vortices, and the longer the trailing threat, sometimes extending over 25nm (nautical miles). Disregarding or accidentally getting engulfed in these vortices can result in the breakage or bending of aircraft, and at times, it can lead to injuries or even death. You can watch a YouTube video on this topic at youtube.com/watch?v=ZI9ZHBRc2yQ.