Earlier this year we heard that climate change may be creating more turbulent flights as weather patterns shift. We may be seeing the results of that shift already.
Flight crew members and passengers on board a Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore to London saw only clear, blue skies when suddenly the plane plunged 65 feet, causing cups of coffee to splatter on the roof and leaving a chaotic mess of food, pillows, cutlery and more in the aisle.
Passenger Alan Cross told the Mirror the turbulence felt “like being in an elevator with a cut cable or free-falling from some amusement park ride,” and another passenger told the news outlet everything that was not tied down – including people – hit the ceiling.
According to many reports, the plane was shook up by clean-air turbulence, a phenomenon caused when bodies of air moving at widely different speeds meet. Scientists have warned global warming could cause passengers to face more turbulent times ahead. Earlier this year in a report published by The Guardian, scientists projected that the frequency of turbulence on flights between Europe and North America will double by 2050 and increase intensity by 10-40 percent.
In the case of the Singapore Airlines flight, 11 passengers and one crew member suffered minor injuries. To prevent further injuries, staff placed blankets over the shattered glass and general mess in the aisles until it was completely cleaned up. Although incidents like this seem extraordinary, they do occur with some regularities, so always remember to keep your seatbelts fastened – even if the light is off.