DBEA55AED16C0C92252A6554BC1553B2 Clicky DBEA55AED16C0C92252A6554BC1553B2 Clicky
July 22, 2024

Top 10 Most Turbulent Routes. Photo: GC Map

Care to share?

Turbulence is an unavoidable aspect of air travel that can be unsettling for passengers and challenging for pilots. Analyzing the most turbulent routes in the world reveals intriguing patterns and underlying causes related to geography, weather systems, and atmospheric conditions. Here is a list of the Top Ten Most Turbulent Flight Routes in the World.

These routes, characterized by their high average turbulence values measured in EDR (eddy dissipation rate), highlight the complex interplay of natural forces that affect aviation.

Understanding Eddy Dissipation Rate (EDR)

Eddy Dissipation Rate (EDR) is a critical metric widely used in aviation to quantify the intensity of turbulence experienced during a flight. EDR measures the rate at which turbulent kinetic energy is dissipated in the atmosphere, indicating how chaotic the airflow is at a given point. 

Unlike traditional measures of turbulence that might rely on subjective pilot reports or less consistent data, EDR provides a standardized and objective measure. It is expressed in units of m²/s³, and higher EDR values correspond to more severe turbulence. 

Using EDR, airlines, and meteorologists can more accurately forecast and understand turbulence patterns, improving flight safety and comfort.

Turbulent Routes
Top 10 Most Turbulent Routes. Photo: GC Map

Top 10 Most Turbulent Routes

As reported by the Turbli, here are the top 10 most turbulent routes in the world, led by the South American route from Santiago to Santa Cruz.

1. Santiago (SCL) – Santa Cruz (VVI)

Topping the list with an average EDR of 17.568, this route from Santiago, Chile, to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, is the most turbulent in the world. This route traverses the Andes, one of the world’s longest and highest mountain ranges, notorious for its severe mountain wave turbulence. 

Rapid changes in altitude and strong winds that descend from the mountains create highly turbulent conditions. 

Additionally, the varying climatic zones, from the arid regions of northern Chile to the tropical weather of Bolivia, contribute to the turbulence, making this route more prone to frequent turbulence than other routes.

Santiago (SCL) – Santa Cruz (VVI). Photo: GC Map

2. Almaty (ALA) – Bishkek (FRU)

The short flight from Almaty, Kazakhstan, to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, ranks second with an average EDR of 17.457. Despite its short flight distance of 210 km, this route is particularly turbulent due to the influence of the Tien Shan mountain range. 

The proximity to these towering mountains results in significant mountain wave turbulence. Furthermore, the region is prone to severe weather patterns, including strong winds and thunderstorms, exacerbating the turbulence experienced on this route.

Almaty (ALA) – Bishkek (FRU). Photo: GC Map

3. Lanzhou (LHW) – Chengdu (CTU)

The Lanzhou to Chengdu route in China, with an average EDR of 16.75, is influenced by the region’s complex topography. The flight path crosses various mountain ranges and plateaus, including the Tibetan Plateau, known for its high levels of atmospheric instability. 

The varying air masses and frequent temperature fluctuations in this region contribute to severe turbulence, making it one of the most turbulent routes in the world.

Lanzhou (LHW) – Chengdu (CTU). Photo: GC Map

4. Centrair (NGO) – Sendai (SDJ)

The flight from Centrair, Japan, to Sendai experiences an average EDR of 16.579. This route is affected by the interaction between oceanic winds from the Pacific and Japan’s mountainous terrain. 

This Japanese region is also prone to seasonal weather patterns such as typhoons and heavy rainstorms, further contributing to the high turbulence.

Turbulent Routes
Centrair (NGO) – Sendai (SDJ). Photo: GC Map

5. Milan (MXP) – Geneva (GVA)

The short hop from Milan, Italy, to Geneva, Switzerland, ranks fifth with an average EDR of 16.398. This route crosses the Alps, Europe’s highest and most extensive mountain range, known for its severe mountain wave turbulence. 

Despite the route’s short distance of 214 km, the complex terrain and frequent changes in weather conditions over the Alps create a turbulent flight experience.

Milan (MXP) – Geneva (GVA). Photo: GC Map

6. Lanzhou (LHW) – Xianyang (XIY)

Another high turbulent-prone route in China, from Lanzhou to Xianyang, has an average EDR of 16.337. Similar to the Lanzhou-Chengdu route, this flight path traverses mountainous regions and plateaus. 

The high-altitude terrain combined with significant temperature variations leads to strong turbulence. The route also encounters frequent weather disturbances, adding to the overall turbulent experience.

Lanzhou (LHW) – Xianyang (XIY). Photo: GC Map

7. Osaka (KIX) – Sendai (SDJ)

The Osaka to Sendai route in Japan, with an average EDR of 16.307, is influenced by the country’s complex topography and climatic conditions.

The interaction between the Pacific Ocean’s weather systems and Japan’s mountainous regions results in frequent and intense turbulence. This route is also affected by seasonal weather patterns, including typhoons and winter storms.

Osaka (KIX) – Sendai (SDJ). Photo: GC Map

8. Xianyang (XIY) – Chengdu (CTU)

The flight from Xianyang to Chengdu has an average EDR of 16.25. This route crosses several mountain ranges and high plateaus, contributing to high turbulence levels. 

The region’s frequent weather changes and strong winds at higher altitudes create challenging flying conditions, making this one of the most turbulent routes in China.

Xianyang (XIY) – Chengdu (CTU). Photo: GC Map

9. Xianyang (XIY) – Chongqing (CKG)

Yet another turbulent route in China, from Xianyang to Chongqing, experiences an average EDR of 16.041. This route’s turbulence is largely due to the complex topography, including mountain ranges and river valleys. 

The varying air masses and frequent temperature fluctuations contribute to the severe turbulence encountered on this route.

Xianyang (XIY) – Chongqing (CKG). Photo: GC Map

10. Milan (MXP) – Zurich (ZRH)

The Milan to Zurich route ranks out of the top ten, with an average EDR of 16.016. Like the Milan-Geneva route, this flight crosses the Alps, where mountain wave turbulence is prevalent. 

The frequent weather changes and strong winds over the Alps add to the turbulence, making this short route of 203 km particularly rough.

Turbulent Routes
Milan (MXP) – Zurich (ZRH). Photo: GC Map

Conclusion: Turbulent Routes

These top ten most turbulent flight routes reveal the significant influence of geographical features and weather patterns on turbulence. Routes that traverse mountainous regions, such as the Andes, Alps, and the Tibetan Plateau, are particularly prone to severe turbulence.

Additionally, the interaction between oceanic winds and complex topography, as seen in routes over Japan and the Pacific, further contributes to high turbulence levels. 

Understanding these factors is crucial for improving flight safety and enhancing the overall flying experience for passengers and crew.

author avatar
Sharad Ranabhat
An experienced journalist, based in Nepal, with a proven track record of delivering breaking news and research-based analysis in the airline/aviation industry. Working with multiple outlets, I have honed my writing skills to produce engaging and informative content that resonates with industry professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.