dust devil

Dust devils present significant aviation risks

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dust devil

Dust devils post significant aviation risks.

Dust devils present significant hadzards to aviation and have been present in more than 170 accidents the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has investigated since 1982 according to an NTSB Aviation Safety Alert (SA-088) on the topic. The spiraling updraft of a dust devil can oncur under clear skies and warm conditions especially in areas with flat terrain such as the Southwest US. Given their strenth (which can be comparable to a tornado) and often invisible presence, dust devils can create suden and unexpected and severe turbulence which can lead to loss of control.

While dust devils containing debris can be obvious, for those with no debris, a shadow can still be created depending on the angle of the sun. And in some environments, dust devils leave tracks or marks on the ground which can offer clues to their presence, size and direction. It’s recommended that pilots always stay vigilant for the potential existence of dust devils and consider maintaining higher altitudes in areas of higher risk.

Learn more in this NTSB video.

Flight Training Central Staff
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