Emirates has observed an increase in the amount of turbulence on its flights, prompting the industry to “up its game”, according to airline president Tim Clark.

Speaking after a high-profile incident on a Singapore Airlines flight on 21 May, Clark said at the IATA AGM on 2 June that Emirates had already noticed a rise in the number of “clear air turbulence” incidents.

Emirates president

Source: BillyPix

Clark says there will be more focus on passengers staying in their seats

“Well before that, there was evidence that we were beginning to see, not a geographical trend of where these things were happening, but a ticking up of the amount of turbulence,” he says.

“Some people say it’s climate change, some people say you’ve got many more flights than you used to have, but the fact is the incidence was going up.”

As a result, the Singapore Airlines incident was “coincidental” with the industry “realising something is going on”, he says.

“We’ve had our own fair share of issues,” Clark explains. “Not as bad as unfortunately Singapore Airlines had, but let’s be quite honest… if you haven’t got people strapped in, some of the clear air turbulence interjections, oscillations in altitude, it’s a real risk.

“The whole industry is now upping the game in regarding to making sure passengers are strapped in.”

Describing the issue as “no real problem” and “fixable”, Clark adds: “We are looking at all the protocols. We will take measured approach to all of this.”

Moreover, Emirates is attempting to use AI to predict when incidents might occur, he says.

“We [can] predict weather patterns and the constituents of clear air turbulence situations given wind velocities of the jet stream, the movement of the jet stream, the latitudes of the jet stream, the combination of winds in the upper atmosphere that cause these vortexes,” Clark states.

“In the meantime, you will see as a result of [the Singapore Airlines incident] that the industry… will be a lot more concerned about making sure people are in their seats and strapped in as best they can.”