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乱流,空中旅行的头号安全杀手

更新时间:2016-6-7 19:23:59 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Challenge of Taming Air Turbulence
乱流,空中旅行的头号安全杀手

He had taken a few hard hits as a quarterback for the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League.

担任加拿大全加足联渥太华莽骑兵队四分卫的时候,他也受过几次重击。

But when his American Airlines flight on Jan. 25 from Miami to Milan, a Boeing 767 carrying 192 passengers, blew sideways, Jordan Case thought that was it.

不过,1月25日那天,当乔登‧凯斯(Jordan Case)搭着美国航空公司(American Airlines)自迈阿密飞往米兰的班机遭遇强气流的时候,他觉得大限到了。那是一架波音767客机,机上有乘客192人。

“I’ve always been a nervous flier and you’re used to bumpy turbulence,” he said. “It happened all of a sudden, just a huge jolt. It was loud and happened twice.”

“我搭飞机时向来紧张,也常遇见乱流颠簸,”凯斯说。“这次来得很突然,机身猛烈颠了一下,发出巨响,总共来了两次。”

Seated in business class with his wife, Karen, Mr. Case — who owns three luxury car dealerships in Plano, Tex. — said the experience was “horrific.”

凯斯是德州普莱诺市三家高档汽车经销店的老板。乱流发生时,他与妻子凯伦坐在商务舱里。凯斯说,那次经历“太可怕了”。

The flight, which hit severe clear air turbulence at 29,000 feet, 420 nautical miles southeast of St. John’s airport in Newfoundland, was diverted to that airport, and two passengers and three flight attendants were taken to the hospital for treatment and observation.

这架飞机遇上激烈的晴空乱流的时候,位于距纽芬兰圣约翰机场东南420海里、2.9万英尺的高空。班机变更航线,降落在了圣约翰,机上有两名乘客及三名空服人员被送到医院接受治疗与观察。

The couple flew on to Milan the next day, and Mr. Case has flown several times since.

凯斯夫妇第二天继续飞往米兰。那以后,凯斯又有过几次飞行经历。

Turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to passengers and crew aboard commercial aircraft, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

根据美国联邦航空管理局(Federal Aviation Administration)的数据,乱流是导致民航乘客与空服人员受伤的主要原因。

In 2015, 21 people — 14 crew members and seven passengers — were injured by turbulence, according to the F.A.A.; in 2014, 31 people were injured, nine crew members and 22 passengers.

航管局的资料显示,2015年有21人因乱流受伤,其中有14名乘务员、七名乘客;2014年则有31人受伤,分别为九名乘务员与22名乘客。

The worst recent year was 2010, when 76 people — 25 crew members and 51 passengers — were injured by turbulence.

近年来最糟的是2010年,那年有25名乘务员、51名乘客,共76人因乱流受伤。

There are many different kinds of turbulence, with the most problematic to predict and to avoid being clear air turbulence (which is very difficult to detect using conventional radar). Much of it is typically experienced at cruising altitude.

乱流有很多种,其中晴空乱流最难预测与回避,常规雷达很难侦测。飞机大多是在巡航高度时遇上晴空乱流的。

In the last few months, at least three commercial flights, two on American Airlines and one on Air Canada, have experienced severe turbulence that resulted in injuries to those on board. In two instances, the flights were diverted to nearby airports so the injured could receive treatment.

近几个月以来,至少有三架民航飞机遭遇到严重乱流,导致机上人员受伤;其中有两架美国航空、一架加拿大航空班机。这三次中有两次,飞机改变航线、就近降落其他机场,以便让伤患接受治疗。

Aviation professionals classify turbulence from light to extreme, a form they say is very rare. The challenge of reporting turbulence, several pilots said, is that the reports themselves are subjective.

航空专业人士将乱流分成轻微至极度严重的不同等级;根据他们的说法,极度严重的乱流十分罕见。一些飞行员说,报告乱流也存在困难,因为报告本身是主观的。

While in flight, pilots file Pilot Reports (Pireps) to alert airline dispatchers and other pilots en route of any turbulence they’ve encountered; what one pilot considers mild might feel moderate to another.

飞行员会在飞航时发布飞行简报,让飞行调度员和航线上的其他飞机知道他们遭遇了乱流,提醒他们注意。一位飞行员认为属于轻度的乱流,另一位飞行员可能认为属于中度。

What aviation professionals know is that a global network on the ground also helps guide every flight.

而航空专业人士明白,全球地勤工作网络也能协助指引各架航班。

“I call it the safety net,” said John Lanicci, professor of meteorology at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. “You have pilots en route chatting, you have the air control centers and the flight dispatchers for the airlines.” If a flight hits severe enough turbulence that injuries result, a medical professional on the ground is also consulted and a decision quickly made whether to divert, land and take the injured to the hospital.

“我把这叫做‘安全网’,”约翰‧朗尼奇(John Lanicci)说。他是佛罗里达戴通纳海滩(代托纳比奇)的安柏瑞德航空大学(Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University)的气象学教授。“你有航线上的飞行员相互通话,还有空管中心与各航空公司的班机调度员。”要是有班机遇上严重到足以伤人的乱流,地上也有医学专家可供咨询,马上决定是否该更改航线、降落、将伤患送医。

When flights like American Airlines 206, the one Mr. Case was on, are forced to divert because of turbulence-related injury, it costs airlines both financially and reputationally, said Mark Miller, senior vice president and general manager, decision support at the Weather Company, an IBM business.

IBM旗下的气象公司(Weather Company)决策支持部高级副总裁与总经理马克‧米勒(Mark Miller)认为,如果航班被迫变更航线,比如凯斯乘坐的美国航空206航班遇到的那次,此类事件会导致航空公司受到经济与名誉上的双重损失。

Mr. Miller, a meteorologist, said that turbulence can force aircraft to choose less than optimal routes that use more fuel and are less efficient, and the roughest flights can require additional aircraft checks and maintenance.

米勒还是一位气象学家。他说,乱流会迫使飞机放弃最优航线,选择更耗油、效率低的航线。最颠簸的航行还会要求对飞机做额外的检修。

Brand perception is another issue, he added. “It’s a big problem for emerging markets if new fliers see passengers coming off in a neck brace.” And yet, Mr. Miller and Dr. Lanicci agree, some routes are simply more likely to prove bumpy, like Asia-Pacific flights. “It’s a big problem,” Mr. Miller said. If it looks like a flight is going to be rough “that perception can impact demand for air travel.”

米勒还说,品牌形象是另一个问题。 “对新兴市场来说,新客户看到有人脖子装着支架下飞机,麻烦就大了。”然而米勒与朗尼奇也承认,有些航线就是比较容易颠簸,比如亚太航线。 “这是个大问题,”米勒说。如果一段航程看起来将会颠簸不平,“这种认识就会影响飞行需求”。

The American Airlines flight that the Cases took encountered only a few seconds of turbulence, said a spokesman for the airline, Ross Feinstein, and the plane was not damaged.

美国航空的发言人罗斯‧范士丹(Ross Feinstein)表示,凯斯搭乘的班机仅仅遭遇到数秒钟的乱流,且机身并未受损。

Aviation crews admit that experiencing turbulence can be frightening and disorienting, even sometimes for them as well, but they emphasize that planes are designed and manufactured to weather it.

乘务人员承认,遇上乱流很可能既恐怖、又让人晕头转向,有时就连对他们来说也是如此。不过他们也强调,飞机的设计和建造是可以承受住乱流的。

“Our airplanes are built to withstand 3.75 G load before there is any kind of damage — that’s almost four times gravity,” said Doug Alder, a spokesman for Boeing. “Some of the worst turbulence gets in the range of 2 to 2.5 G’s, well below the damage tolerance.”

“我们建造的飞机能承受最高达3.75G的冲击而不会有任何损伤,几乎是重力的四倍。”波音公司发言人道格‧阿尔德(Doug Alder)表示。 “最严重的乱流的冲击力一般在2到2.5G之间,远在飞机的耐损限度之下。”

“Flights are diverted because passengers have been injured by turbulence, not because the airplane has been damaged,” he said.

“班机改变航道是因为有乘客因乱流受伤,而不是因为飞机受损的缘故。”阿尔德表示。

After events of severe turbulence, aircraft are also carefully examined for any damage to be sure they remain airworthy.

遇上严重乱流之后,飞机也会受到仔细检查,确认是否有任何损伤,确保它们还能继续飞行。

A study of upper-level turbulence, examining two million pilot reports between January 1994 and December 2005, showed a spike in reports between 1997 and 1998, Dr. Lanicci said, which the study’s authors suggested could be attributed to El Niño.

在一份关于高空乱流的研究中,研究人员检视了1994年1月至2005年12月间的200万份飞行简报。朗尼奇说,结果显示,乱流报告在1997与1998年间有一个高峰。该研究的作者认为,原因可能是厄尔尼诺现象。

This year’s El Niño has affected weather patterns worldwide as well.

这一年的厄尔尼诺现象也影响了全球的气候常模。

“It’s an interesting question,” Dr. Lanicci said when asked if El Niño is currently causing more frequent or more severe turbulence. “Inconclusive,” said David Hosansky, a spokesman for the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a federally funded research and development center.

“这是个有趣的问题。”当被问及厄尔尼诺现象是否正在造成更为频繁和严重的乱流,朗尼奇如是说。美国国家大气研究中心(National Center for Atmospheric Research)发言人大卫‧侯山斯基(David Hosansky)则表示:“尚无定论。”该单位为美国联邦政府资助的研究发展中心。

As 2015 was also the hottest year so far on record, is there a link between severe turbulence and climate change?

鉴于2015年亦是有史以来最热的一年,强烈乱流与气候变化是否有关联呢?

While a paper published in 2013 in the journal Nature Climate Change said there was a causal link between the two, Dr. Lanicci said that there are too many complex factors to make this connection directly. “Every year is going to be different, so can we also go back to every turbulence report and correlate it to climate change?” he said. “There are too many things that could contribute to that.”

虽然《自然气候变化》(Nature Climate Change)在2013年刊载的一份研究宣称两者间有因果关系,不过朗尼奇表示,还有太多复杂因素,很难确定乱流与气候变化的直接关系。 “每一年都会不一样,难道我们能去追溯每一次乱流报告,然后找出它和气候变化的关联吗?”他说。 “有太多因素会导致乱流。”

Passengers who fly a great deal can become blasé and forget to stay firmly buckled in, or start to ignore warnings when anticipated turbulence doesn’t happen, airline crews said.

乘务人员表示,常乘坐飞机的旅客可能会见怪不怪、忘了全程系好安全带,或者因为预计的乱流没有发生而无视警告。

It’s a risk to avoid.

应该避免这种风险。

The problem with light turbulence is that it can turn into severe turbulence in a matter of seconds. Those not securely strapped into their seats can, and have, flown into galley carts, arm rests or the ceiling, breaking hips, arms and noses and risking concussion.

轻度乱流的问题在于,它可能在转瞬间变得十分强烈。那些没有留在座位上系好安全带的乘客,有可能会撞上服务推车、座椅扶手或天花板,撞断自己的髋骨、手臂、鼻子,甚至有脑震荡的危险。此类状况已有先例。

In a highly competitive industry, flight crews must balance offering service with keeping passengers and crew safe. Once an announcement has been made instructing crew to remain seated — marking a period of anticipated intense turbulence — anyone not wearing a seatbelt is at risk.

在这个竞争激烈的行业,乘务员一定要在提供服务与维护乘客与同事的安全间取得平衡。一旦广播指示机组人员留在座位上——这是预计将有强烈乱流的信号——此时任何未系安全带的人都可能有危险。

Each airline has dozens of meteorologists on staff helping to plan and guide their flights to avoid turbulence whenever possible, and pilots have access to a wealth of real-time information.

各家航空公司编制内都有数十位气象专家,尽可能协助规划航班并指引其避免乱流,飞行员也能获得大量的即时信息。

More than 700 aircraft, such as the 737, 757, 767, 777 and Airbus A319 and 321, are using the Weather Company’s four-year-old software program, Total Turbulence, which collects and shares data with pilots using the system.

有超过700架飞机在使用气象公司提供的、有四年历史的“乱流全览”(Total Turbulance)软件。这其中有波音737、757、767、777型,还有空中巴士A319与321型飞机。“乱流全览”能够收集数据,并与使用这款软件的飞行员共享数据。

“The challenge of turbulence is that there’s no one answer to the problem,” Mr. Miller said.

米勒说:“乱流的挑战就在于,应对这个问题没有唯一答案。”

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