Wake turbulence from an Emirates A380 traveling from Dubai to Sydney flipped over a private jet, forcing an emergency landing in Muscat and rendering the aircraft scrap metal.
Back in the days of “Channel 9” (ATC communications) on United Airlines, I’d often here the phrase, “Caution: wake turbulence”. More than a decade ago, I also learned about the concept of wake turbulence during my Air Force flight training, but never gave it much thought. Here’s a brief refresher, then we’ll move to the incident.
What is Wake Turbulence?
Wake turbulence is turbulence that forms behind an aircraft as it passes through the air. This turbulence includes various components, the most important of which are wingtip vortices and jetwash. Jetwash refers simply to the rapidly moving gases expelled from a jet engine; it is extremely turbulent, but of short duration. Wingtip vortices, on the other hand, are much more stable and can remain in the air for up to three minutes after the passage of an aircraft.
Emirates A380 Flips Over Challenger 604
While danger from wake turbulence is most heightened during takeoff and landing, it can take place at anytime. An Emirates A380, enroute from Dubai to Sydney flying at 35,000 feet, was heading southwest over the Arabian Sea. A German registered Canadair Challenger 604 passed in the opposite direction 1,000 feet underneath.
After passing the super jumbo jet, the flight crew lost control of the aircraft. The jet quickly entered an uncontrolled roll pattern, flipping over 3-5 times and rapidly losing 10,000 feet. Thankfully, the crew were able to regain control of the jet, but the engines had burned out.
An emergency was declared and the aircraft made if safely to Muscat. Nine passengers were onboard and several were injured. The plane “received damage beyond repair and was written off”.
According to the Aviation Herald, this was not the first such occurrence.
Should you be worried about wake turbulence when you fly? Not if you are on a larger commercial airliner–adequate precautions are almost always taken. But if on a private jet, be careful. Wake turbulence is a force to be reckoned with.
It does make me wonder how they pulled this off–
(tip of the hat to Jeff / image credit: Ronnie Macdonald / Wikimeida Commons)