Just lately, an Aerolineas Argentinas Airbus A330 flying from Miami to Buenos Aires went through clear air turbulence, otherwise known as CAT. Flight AR1303 with 192 passengers on board experienced the terrifying moment when the aircraft flew over Brazil. 15 passengers were injured some with no bleeds. Pictures showed the mess in the cabin caused by the turbulence with the galley.
The aircraft landed safely and all injured passengers were given medical attention right away.
Such incident is usually caused by CAT, and this is undetected by an aircraft radar system, hence, the airline would always advice passengers to keep seatbelts on at all times even if the fasten seatbelt sign is off. There is really no warning.
So what is CAT or Clear Air Turbulence. Based on Skybrary.aero, CAT is defined as sudden severe turbulence occurring in cloudless regions that causes violent buffeting of aircraft. This term is commonly applied to higher altitude turbulence associated with wind shear. The most comprehensive definition is high-altitude turbulence encountered outside of convective clouds. This includes turbulence in cirrus clouds, within and in the vicinity of standing lenticular clouds and, in some cases, in clear air in the vicinity of thunderstorms. Generally, though, CAT definitions exclude turbulence caused by thunderstorms, low-altitude temperature inversions, thermals, strong surface winds, or local terrain features.
This causes the aircraft to suddenly rise or drop in altitude, and this may throw unbuckled passengers and crew members around. In fact, more than passengers, flight attendants are more prone to facing injuries caused by CAT as they move around the cabin more often assisting passengers and attending to their needs.
Though there has never been any reported history of a crash caused by CAT, pilots have been provided the approriate training should they suddenly pass through a CAT area.
However, this has caused a lot of injuries and a death of an unbuckled passenger who was thrown several feet away from her chair.
Here are the flights that went through CAT which have caused injury to the cabin crew:
It is greatly advised to stay buckled whenever you are in your seat. If you have to go to the lavatory, be cautious all the time. Avoid also off limits area like the galley. If you need a flight attendant, just press the call button. Also during severe turbulence and you are off your seat, do your best to return to your seat right away and get strapped.
Despite the danger facing them, flight attendants will still approach the passengers and check if everyone are strapped in. Yes the risk to injury is high, but as the unsung heroes of the sky ready to put their own lives behind them in favor of others, they will still ensure that you are safe and secure.
Again, CAT is not detected by a radar system, so always stay buckled throughout the flight.