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Old 8th May 2018, 01:15
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Join Date: Oct 2007
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"Ride report" questions have seen a pervasive increase in recent times on the western side of the Atlantic too. Everyone and their dog seems to want a ride report when they check in with a new control sector. I think climbing through 5,000' on the SID is a little late to be asking about turbulence, as it should have been discussed during the met briefing. The increase in such queries suggests that pilots are too attached to their phones and are not giving the met briefing the appropriate consideration. As far as I am concerned, if I encounter turbulence, I'll report it to ATC and then to dispatch through ACARS. The dispatcher can then send a message to all the affected aircraft along the route. I hate extraneous communications, for which this falls into the category. I feel the increase may be linked to experience. For example, I recently had an FO ask me how I knew there was turbulence coming up crossing the Rockies into Edmonton when none had been drawn on any of the maps. I explained that, while it was smooth as silk at cruise, the wind was on our back at 80 knots and this would generate turbulence in the lee of the hills. He had put far too much trust into the graphical products, and was yet still surprised after my explanation that we encountered turbulence from FL240 to about 8,000'. And this is where I think the problem arises. Too many new pilots are looking at the graphical products and not taking the raw data into account. If you see a jetstream is turning 50 degrees along your track, you're going to get turbulence, even if someone did not colour it in. If the wind is crossing the rocks at a decent speed, you're going to have a bumpy flight.

As for the Americans, frankly, if I could be sued because we hit a bump and young Suzie hit her head while walking down the aisle, I'd probably leave the belts on the whole time and continually ask ATC about the rides too. Those guys have it bad. Do something wrong, get sued. Do something right, get sued. Save 150 people, get sued. It's a horrible system.

Now, if I may also add - a related point to ride reports I promise - is the increase in "moderate turbulence" reports. I've flown behind a lot of aircraft reporting moderate and have come to understand that around 50% of pilots have no clue. Far, far too many times light turbulence is being reported as moderate. I suspect it is from the general decrease in experience, as when one is in moderate (or severe), there is no doubt about it. I know, moderate may be different for swept-wing, straight-wing, et cetera, but in many cases, I've been following the same type of aircraft and what they are reporting is not nearly as bad as what it is. I also get that weather changes, but not nearly that quickly.

There, that feels better.
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