EASA published today a Safety Information Bulletin (SIB) to remind pilots and air traffic controllers about the risks associated with wake turbulence encounters at high altitude and about the applicable precautionary measures.
Every flying aircraft generates turbulence in its wake. This wake turbulence consists of a pair of counter-rotating vortices that can persist for several minutes behind the generating airplane, naturally descending. Actual motion strongly depends on the prevailing wind and atmospheric conditions.
The likelihood for an airplane to encounter severe wake turbulence generated by another airplane is very low but cannot be excluded. Typically, the so-called “heavy” and “super heavy” aircraft (Airbus 340, Airbus 380, Boeing 747 as examples) are more prone to generate stronger vortices, although there is potential for other large aircraft types as well.
EASA is continuously monitoring with interested parties the risks associated to wake encounters en-route and publishes this SIB to inform the community about precautionary measures.