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Home > Night Flights > Is there less turbulence when flying at night?
Is there less turbulence when flying at night?
Weather - Night Flights
Friday, 20 April 2007 09:32

Hi Captain Lim,

Thank you for your website. It is extremely helpful.

I have an upcoming nonstop flight from LA to Singapore. I just have a few questions.

Why is it that there is less turbulence when you fly at night?

And when you fly in the US, I understand that pilots can talk to other aircraft and ground controllers, but whom do the pilots talk to when you are flying across the Pacific. So, would there be updates on turbulence conditions when flying that long haul flight over the Ocean?

On a side question, if most accidents occur during take off and landing
should I be worried? This is generally when I am most calm.

Thank you so much.

Emily

Hi Emily,


Yes, there is less turbulence at night because the air is generally smoother during this period. However, this statement is not necessarily true when the night sky that you are flying in, is in the midst of a cloudy frontal system; or your route passes through a parcel of air that has varying winds and in the vicinity of a jet stream.

Over the land, pilots communicate with other aircraft or the ground stations using the VHF (very high frequency) radios that typically have a range of around 220 nautical miles at about 35,000 feet.

When flying over the Pacific, pilots use the HF (high frequency) radios as they have longer range than the VHF radios. Pilots could also use the radio satellite stations to communicate with the ground, either through voice or text messages. Unfortunately, updates on destination and diversion airports are readily available but turbulence on route is not routinely broadcasted. However, on some occasion, turbulence reports are given to pilots by ATC on request.

It is true that most accidents occur during the take off and landing, but overall, flying is still considered to be very safe (yes, I have been criticized for making this statement!) So there is nothing much for you to be afraid of; if you are very comfortable and calm during the take off and landing - good for you!

The turbulence that you may experience is nothing to be anxious about. It is part and parcel of flying that you need to understand and accept. Enjoy it like a roller coaster ride if you are unfortunate to be caught in one. If you don't like the experience, not to worry too, it is an issue of discomfort rather than one of safety that most people are fearful about. Read more about turbulence in my site.

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Comments (4)

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Sponcers for Pilot license , Low-rated comment [Show]
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Noone is going to sponsor someone that can't even spell....
... , 27 Aug, 2010
Is it better to fly at night or during the day?
Hello, I am currently writing an 800 word persuasive piece on why it's better to fly at night! I really need some ideas! Please help
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Kalyah , 18 Oct, 2015
a few quick questions....
Flying from San Francisco to Philippines, end of March this coming year. Will that be a less turbulent time to fly ? The flights will be generally at night, non-stop, PAL.
Also, at what point in the flight do we cross over to the Philippine time zone, and if the flight from SFO takes off at 1100H, will it be dark outside the whole time all the way to MNL ? Thanks.
Timothy , 01 Sep, 2017

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