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Buttigieg blames climate change for increase in deadly severe flight turbulence

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg faulted climate change for the increase in severe turbulence on business airline flights whereas citing estimates that it has shot up by double digits over latest a long time.

Buttigieg, 42, contended that prime officers might want to “reevaluate” protocols for dealing with these severe climate occasions in the long run and that the US might want to bolster its home infrastructure.

“The reality is, the effects of climate change are already upon us in terms of our transportation,” Buttigieg instructed CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Pete Buttigieg
The Transportation Secretary has requested Congress ship him extra assets to rent and practice extra air site visitors controllers. The Washington Post via Getty Images

“We’ve seen that in the form of everything from heat waves that shouldn’t statistically even be possible threatening to melt the cables of transit systems in the Pacific Northwest,” he went on before citing “indications that turbulence is up by about 15%.”

A 2019 study in Nature concluded that vertical shear in jet streams spiked 15% from the late 1970s.

Last Tuesday, Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from London to Singapore encountered severe turbulence which injured over 30 passengers and is believed to have led to the death of a British man from a suspected heart attack.

“To be clear, something that extreme is very rare. But turbulence can happen and sometimes it can happen unexpectedly,” Buttigieg explained.

“This is all about making sure that we stay ahead of the curve, keeping aviation as safe as it is. It’s not for nothing that it became the safest form of travel in America. We’ve got to treat that not as some mission accomplished.”

Boeing
Boeing has been beneath hearth after a handful of high quality management points precipitated scares. via REUTERS

Since taking the reins at the Department of Transportation, Buttigieg has placed a strong emphasis on his desire to help combat climate change.

But he has also been forced to reckon with a bevy of transportation snarls, controversies with Boeing, and worker shortages such as with air traffic controllers.

“We inherited about a decade of falling numbers in terms of the number of air traffic controllers in the workforce. We’ve stabilized that,” Buttigieg claimed.

Earlier this year, Boeing revealed that there has been a 500% uptick in employee concerns submitted about safety issues for the first two months of 2024.

Boeing has been under fire after several high-profile incidents, including an Alaska Airlines flight on a Boeing 737 Max in which a door panel ripped off mid-flight.

“There’s an encouraging part and a concerning part,” Buttigieg said. “We want Boeing, and any producer in the aviation space, to have a culture of if you see something, say something.”

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282
An official examines the fuselage plug space of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282. AP

Although left unsaid, the Transportation Secretary hinted that the concerning part to him was the dramatic surge in reporting could indicate that Boeing is having more problems than previously realized.

At least two whistleblowers linked to Boeing have died under mysterious circumstances.

Buttigieg warned that if there was “direct evidence” Boeing was previously discouraging employees from coming forward with safety concerns, then there would be “direct action.”

“I’m not here to make an accusation like that at this time,” he clarified.

Back in February, the FAA had demanded Boeing present a plan of action to address quality issues with its plane manufacturing. The deadline for that report is next week and Boeing claims it’s on monitor to make it.

“There needs to be some major change. And that’s not overnight work,” Buttigieg added. “…They’re gonna have to do more to demonstrate their readiness to safely increase production.”

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