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Is it feasible for an airline pilot to lose consciousness due to extreme turbulence?

Wondering of the possibilities of an airline pilot and copilot losing consciousness due to extreme turbulence. G-forces would likely be generated in excess of 2.5g. Sustained g-forces of this magnitude may in my opinion, be enough to result in short-term loss of consciousness, but i’m wanting an expert opinion on this matter.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Unlikely to impossible for both pilots to lose consciousness solely due to G-forces. Like you said, *sustained* G-forces are what causes people to lose consciousness. Turbulence, even of the extreme variety, rarely ever causes sustained G-loading for longer than a second or two at a time.

  2. Hmmm, I’ve frequently flown as a commercial instrument instructor as PIC during severe turbulence, and can’t say either myself or students have ever got anywhere near unconsciousness, and I’m talking conditions far worse than 2.5G’s – plenty of puking and white knuckles though ;>))
    Spatial disorientation would be a far more serious and immediate condition to contend with in my experience, which I would guess in a high stress high responsibility situation such as PIC of an airliner with 400 bodies on board, Could cause physical and psychological reactions leading to unconsciousness, but doubtfull – aircrews are far too well trained to let things get that far out of hand.

  3. It is not feasible to lose consciousness due to the g-forces during extreme turbulence. Only if a pilot were to strike their head against structure in the cockpit, or a loose object in the cockpit were to strike them, would they possibly incur a loss of consciousness.
    Even though I was wearing a safety belt and shoulder harness in a Cessna 172 many years ago, I hit a ‘bump’ so hard (very windy day) that I banged my head on the overhead so hard that I thought I broke my neck. To this day I believe that if my belt had been less tight, or unfastened, I would have been rendered unconscious or would have lost control of the aircraft.
    It had nothing to do with the g-forces of the turbulence, just the g-forces of impact.

  4. If you are in the seat, you are required to have your seatbelt secured about you. Once you have been conked on the bean, you tend to not even notice that seatbelt anylonger… I could not even begin to count the number of times (in the sim as well) that I tried to climb out of my seat while still wearing the belt, because I am so accustomed to it being there.
    2.5 g’s is NOTHING, you can pull that much at the local go-kart track, Next, most pilots do not even know the scale of turbulence and they report it as more than it really is. Light is when you feel a slight tug against your belt, Moderate is when objects get loose and start moving around the cockpit (most guys call that severe) and Severe is when the aircraft momentarily departs controlled flight. THAT will get your attention… so will that Jepp manual when it goes flying down the aisle.
    Will you lose consciousness from that? No, not unless the F/a is holding something heavy over your head about the time that you hit the bumps and whacks you with it.

  5. They could… if the turbulence was really bad and someone happened to be pumping iron in the cockpit 😛
    Not solely from turbulence/g-forces.

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