I've been a reader of your site and information here. It helps me to deal with my fear for air travel. I'm very thankful to you and your site.
I am traveling to Melbourne, Australia from Shanghai, China by Qantas in a few weeks’ time.
1. Have you flown via this route?
2. Do you have any idea how the aerial/weather condition is normally like on this route?
3. Is there usually heavy turbulence?
4. What are the chances of thunderstorms?
I apologise if the questions sound strange but I am for some reason under the impression that thunderstorms happen more often flying over oceans, especially the Atlantic Ocean.
Your articles have been very informative about the impact of turbulence/thunderstorms and how they are usually dealt with or avoided. I understand that with modern technology pilots are constantly updated with the weather condition ahead, but are there chances for the sudden encounter of unpredictable severe conditions, meaning they can't possibly be avoided?
Thank you and best regards!
I have flown from Shanghai to Melbourne but via Kuala Lumpur and at different times. Nevertheless, the weather to be encountered would still be almost the same.
QANTAS would fly a more southerly route but it would not fly over any ocean. Unfortunately, both the routes may fly through the ITCZ or Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone where the air mass from the North meets those from the South.
At the ITCZ there are likely to be thunderstorms with turbulence but the pilots would avoid them at all cost either visually or using weather radar (see videos top/bottom).
Yes, there were thunderstorms and severe turbulence encountered by Air France 447 that crashed over the Atlantic Ocean and according to the BEA report, amongst the causes of the accident, there were instrument failure due to ice formation on the speed sensor (pitot) and incorrect handling by the junior pilot.
There were lessons learnt and hopefully, it would never happen again.
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