Using publicly available reports that show basic parameters of an aircraft's flight position and speed, the researchers tested three algorithms for turbulence detection.
The first proved unsuccessful, but the next two could be used to locate rough patches of sky within a margin of error of about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles). It takes about 100 seconds for commercial aircraft to travel that distance, which should give pilots enough time to avoid problem areas.
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Although turbulence can be dangerous, the number of passengers injured every year is low compared to the total number of travelers.
In the last decade, the most number of turbulence-related injuries in any one year was 76, which occurred in 2010. That same year, 790 million passengers flew to, from and within the United States on domestic and international carriers, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data.
To ensure passenger safety during periods of in-flight turbulence, the FAA recommends that flyers adhere to carry-on restrictions, listen to flight attendants and, of course, buckle up.