August 13, 2013
By Jim Moore
Advanced warning, or even avoidance of clear-air turbulence may be possible in coming years, and a Cessna Citation is flying circuits out of Amsterdam and over Europe to make it happen.
The joint effort by various European aerospace agencies seeks to detect wind shear strong enough to produce waves which compromise smooth airflow over wings, and lift. Those waves are the cause of clear-air turbulence.
A short-wave, ultraviolet laser mounted on a probe extending forward of the Citation’s nose sends a beam along the flight path, and sensitive instruments measure the backscatter, or reflection, of that light from air molecules. The density of oxygen and nitrogen can then be calculated, and clear air turbulence is then revealed indirectly.
Researchers from several countries are collaborating in hope that one day a cockpit instrument could give pilots enough warning to direct passengers to their seats, or, better still, steer around the bumps.
Collaboration between the German government, academia, and airplane manufacturers may make future aircraft cabins more protective of pilots and passengers. The Safety Box team plans to apply auto racing technology to general aviation.
A father and his 14-year-old son were helping another pilot ferry a newly purchased aircraft from California to their home field in Virginia. The three made an overnight stop in Albuquerque before flying on to Illinois for fuel. But shortly after they parked the aircraft in Marion, Ill., they were approached by as many as 18 uniformed and non-uniformed law enforcement officers who came running toward the airplane.
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