Turkish Airlines Flight 1 had just 45 minutes left in its eight-hour-plus journey from Istanbul to New York on March 10, when the Boeing 777 suddenly shook violently and plunged, injuring passengers and members of the flight crew.
The plane made an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where 28 passengers and two crew members were treated for injuries, according to news reports.
That flight was cruising over Maine when it encountered severe turbulence, known as clear-air turbulence because it occurs in clear skies without an obvious visual cue for the pilots.
Such incidents may become more common in the skies above the North Atlantic due to changes in wind shear as a result of human-caused climate change, according to a new study published Wednesday.
One of the major causes of clear air turbulence is wind shear, which occurs when winds vary in speed or direction with height.
The new study, published in the journal Nature, is the first to detect a statistically significant increase in vertical wind shear at jet-stream altitudes across the North Atlantic. Changes here can have a significant influence on aviation, since nearly 3,000 flights cross the pond on an average day.
The study focuses on the North Atlantic for two main reasons: It’s the world’s busiest overseas flight corridor, and flights crossing the ocean in this region are typically exposed to the polar jet stream for the duration of their flight, particularly during the winter. […]