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Photo: Magnus Glans
Photo: Magnus Glans

Aviation

Ask the pilot: Is turbulence dangerous or are the pilots in control?

How do planes actually fly, what exactly is turbulence and why are airplane windows always round? The best people to answer your questions about the wonders of aviation are SAS pilots.

In recent years, I’ve become more afraid of flying. I’m terrified when there’s turbulence and can’t relax or enjoy the flight. Is turbulence dangerous or are the pilots in full control? Have you got any tips to ovecome my fear of flying?    

Karin

Niclas Almqvist

Age: 48
Career: Joined SAS in 1997. Flew the Fokker F-28 for two years, then the Boeing 737. Captain on the Canadair CRJ-200 at Cimber Air from 2007 to 2011. Has a background in business aviation from Hästens Sängar AB. Captain on the Boeing 737 since 2016.
Home base: ARN
Flies: Boeing 737
Flight hours: 13,700

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Hi Karin,

Many travelers feel uncomfortable during turbulence. It’s not dangerous, but I do understand the feeling of unease. Turbulence is generated in different ways. There can be turbulence on the ground when the wind is strong and gusty, in clouds due to vertical airflows and sometimes above clouds because of different wind ­directions.

We always do our utmost to avoid turbulence since we know most travelers don’t like it (although some people actually do like it – believe it or not). Most of the time there’s no turbulence at all. But sometimes we have no way of avoiding it, especially during takeoff and landing and when climbing and descending through clouds.

Turbulence isn’t dangerous and we are in control at all times. Planes are built to fly in and withstand these conditions.

I have a friend who took a course for people with a fear of flying. He found it very helpful. This could be something for you to look into. It may also help if you tell the crew how you feel when you board the plane and maybe also ask if you can just say hello to the pilots. 

Flight Captain Niclas Almqvist 

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